It’s no secret that people both enjoy and benefit from using cannabis. Elite athletes are no different. Former pro athletes like Al Harrington and Ricky Williams who were once penalized for their cannabis use, are now starting their own cannabis companies and touting the numerous medical benefits of using cannabis for recovery and wellness.
In a recent article from Bleacher Report, a panel of eight retired former NBA and NFL players talked openly about the frequency of use among athletes.
However, the plant remains banned by sports like the NFL, NBA, MLB and the UFC.
The UFC does allow for its fighters to use CBD, however, making it one of the first major sports to allow their athletes to do so. Mixed martial arts (MMA) seems to be paving the way to mainstreaming cannabis use among elite athletes.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at seven MMA athletes who openly use cannabis and dominate at what they do.
Matt Riddle got off to a promising start in the UFC, winning his first two fighters before testing positive for cannabis twice and being released from the sport.
The athlete has been open about his cannabis use as a medical marijuana patient for physical aches and pains, along with personality issues.
He’s now a professional wrestler and his doing great at it, winning the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s “Rookie of the Year” and “Most Improved Wrestler of the Year” for 2016.
A lanky, lightweight fighter with a high work rate and a ton of personality, Sean “Suga” O’Malley has not been shy about his cannabis use.
Famously smoking with stoner legend Snoop Dogg after a big UFC victory, O’Malley doubles down on his stoner appeal by doing interviews in a robe adorned in pot leaves.
He even released his own strain last year, Suga Show OG, which is a cross between Lemonhead and OG 92. He’s the real deal when it comes to both fighting and weed.
Undeniably one of the best pound for pound UFC fighters of all time, Jon Jones has been very open and public with his substance struggles.
While cocaine and PED’s have all done their part in derailing the career of one of the most promising fight games talents ever, Jones has been clear while he quit other substances he’ll still smoke cannabis and have a drink from time to time.
Probably the most low-key entry on this list, former UFC Welterweight championship contender Jake Shields is a major cannabis advocate.
The Californian fighter spoke at the 2016 Cannathlere convention, “It is a big part of the training for a lot of people. I definitely don’t smoke every day, but sometimes it is a good way to go in there and smoke a little bit and be a little more creative — like sometimes when you are in a big training camp before a competition, it really makes training fun again.”
The Diaz Brothers
The undisputed cannabis kings of the fight game, the Diaz brothers are as open as they could possibly be about their cannabis use.
Nick Diaz talked publically about how he would pass drug tests despite smoking frequently and was even banned for five years when he was caught.
His brother Nate stepped the game up even more, actually smoking a CBD oil vape during a post-fight press conference.
The two have become big names in the cannabis industry, reportedly sustaining their income away from the fight game by launching Game Up, a CBD-infused, plant-based nutrition company.
One of the most dominant female MMA fighters of all time and current WWE superstar, Ronda Rousey has been clear about her position on cannabis over the years.
After Nick Diaz was suspended for his cannabis use, Rousey expressed her support for him and cannabis use as a whole during multiple interviews over the years.
“It’s so not right for [Nick Diaz] to be suspended five years for marijuana. I’m against testing for weed at all. It’s not a performance-enhancing drug. And it has nothing to do with competition. It’s only tested for political reasons.” She said during one interview.
While Rousey has talked extensively about using cannabis when she was younger in her book My Fight/Your Fight, many have speculated that she’s still using since she’s spent so much time with the Diaz brothers. She’s even posted some photos where the eyes were… glassy, to say the least.
Whatever the case, we’re chalking this one up as Rousey being supportive of cannabis use.
Bas Rutten has an incredible story of the highest highs and the lowest lows you can achieve in the fight game. Due to the injuries he accrued over his long fighting career, Rutten developed a crippling addiction to painkillers.
After trying to kick his addiction by using drugs like Suboxone or even trying to go cold turkey, Rutten turned to CBD oil for pain relief and was able to kick his addiction.
“I was skeptical, but I had to try something else,” Rutten said of CBD oil. “I gave Receptra a shot and it changed my life. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Rutten even said the CBD use makes his training and pain management easier, his daughter use it to get rid of zits and he recommends it for anything trying to reduce muscle soreness and better control their pain.
Ricky Williams Will Be Sparking Greatness With His Highsman x Jeeter Collab on Super Bowl Sunday
Ricky Williams made it possible for a generation of athletes to successfully challenge the NFL’s draconian prohibition of cannabis. The Heisman Trophy winner and former running back changed the perception of cannabis in the NFL, bringing in a new era in which the league has stopped drug testing players for cannabis. This paved the way for the league to recently donate $1 million to research how the plant’s medicinal properties could actually help players deal with pain and provide neuroprotection from concussion.
Williams credits smoking cannabis as a way of overcoming the challenges associated with being a professional athlete, from social anxiety to physical injuries. Since retiring from football, Williams has studied herbalism and alternative holistic therapies, intertwined with the healing properties of cannabis. His first line of cannabis wellness products, Real Wellness fused cannabis with herbal extracts like lavender and turmeric.
In 2021, Williams released his new venture, Highsman, a cannabis lifestyle brand “created to empower professional and everyday athletes as well as sports enthusiasts alike.” And a great play on words, too.
“Highsman is an appreciation for greatness and an appreciation for cannabis. When I started experimenting with it recreationally, I became very reflective and a lot of the time the things I was reflecting on didn’t feel good to me. But through that inner reflection, I started making changes in myself– I realized that there was more to me than just being a football player, and it created an urge to start developing those other sides of myself. It was, and still is, my appreciation for cannabis that helped me to realize my potential for greatness outside the game of football. “
Highsman features three curated by Williams to compliment moments in the day and put you in the zone. Pre-Game is a Sativa for an energized boost; Half-Time is a hybrid for focused awareness, and the Post-Game Indica offers a relaxed mood.
Just in time for Super Bowl LVI, Highsman has teamed up with Jeeter, the number one cannabis pre-roll brand in the country, on a limited-edition run of cannabis and apparel products.
Cannabis Aficionado caught up with Williams for a quick huddle to find out what the iconic athlete will be doing this Super Bowl Sunday.
CA: What brought on your partnership with Jeeter?
We partnered with Jeeter because they are a brand at the top of their game. Their dedication to greatness makes them an ideal partner for Highsman. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that, aside from Highsman, Jeeter is one of my top choices when I visit the dispensary.
Where are you watching the Superbowl and who with?
I am watching the Superbowl at the Jeeter house in LA with Jeeter co-founders Sebastian Solano and Lukasz Tracz, and the amazing Highsman team including CEO Eric Hammond and Marketing Director Lane Radbill.
What are you smoking?
Sticky Ricky from the Highsman x Jeeter collab!
What are you eating and drinking?
I eat light pregame… a fruit smoothie, yogurt, assorted fruit, and a little honey.
What were your pre-game rituals?
I had a whole meditation routine. 12 sun salutations, pranayama, twin hearts meditation (heart-opening meditation), and then off to the stadium.
Who do you think will win Superbowl LVI?
I’m just hoping for a good game, but I picked the Rams to win in the Highsman bracket challenge, so I’m going to root for the home team.
Find your nearest Highsman x Jeeter stockist here.
Tom Brady Is Officially Retiring from the NFL
Tom Brady has announced his retirement from the NFL, writing on Instagram on Tuesday that he is “not going to make that competitive commitment anymore.”
“I have always believed the sport of football is an ‘all-in’ proposition — if a 100% competitive commitment isn’t there, you won’t succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game,” Brady said in his statement on Instagram. “There is a physical, mental and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.
“This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention. I’ve done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions. And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors, and fans deserve 100% of me, but right now, it’s best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes.”
Brady’s announcement comes three days after it was originally reported that he would be hanging up his illustrious cleats. Brady had yet to officially commit one way or the other, insisting on “going through the process” during his most recent appearance on his podcast. The outcome of that process was announced on Tuesday.
The legendary sportsman retires after an astounding 22 NFL seasons, 20 with the Patriots and two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which he had the most individual success of any player in NFL history. Tom Brady was a 15-time Pro Bowler, three-time AP MVP, three-time first-team All-Pro, and the all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and quarterback victories.
High Fighting: Jiu-Jitsu Meets Cannabis
The relationship between recreational marijuana and sports has historically been contentious, and MMA leagues in the United States are no exception. Because of how long weed lingers in the bloodstream, many fighters who follow the rule of not smoking during competitive periods nonetheless test positive. Superstar UFC athletes who have tested positive for marijuana (like Nick Diaz) have faced harsh penalties, including fines and even suspensions or bans from competition, thanks to this law.
High Rollerz co-founders Matt Staudt and Big Lonn Howard have chosen to put together a cannabis-infused jiu-jitsu tournament where some of the sport’s elite athletes get high with their opponent before competing – and where the winner’s grand prise is a pound of pot.
Peep the Vice documentary below.