I have been out of town the last couple of days, so I didn't get to do one of my favorite things that I look forward to all year - hanging out at my uncle's house eating amazing food and watching the NFL draft. My uncle is a HUGE football fan (raging Green Bay Packers fan to be specific), and he invites over lots of friends and family and makes a very good time out of all of it. I was out of town for work, so I didn't get to go to his house, or watch the draft at all for that matter.
But I did read the news, especially because the big story from draft night involved marijuana. Apparently a draftee named Laremy Tunsil had his social media accounts hacked, and video footage was leaked from his social media accounts showing him consuming marijuana. To logical people, that wouldn't be a big deal, especially since the video wasn't recent, but mainstream media had a field day. Below is a description of what happened from an article on ESPN:
How would you feel if you were minutes from delivering a valedictory speech at your college graduation when a prankster posted a video on some oversized screen showing you celebrating a night of underage drinking by running naked around campus before urinating on the chancellor's car?
That's what happened to Tunsil at the NFL draft, times 50. Just as he was about to settle into the night, his night, someone used his Twitter account to share what appeared to be scenes borrowed from an old "Breaking Bad" shoot gone wrong. A young man in a black gas mask was shown enjoying an attached bong, and after the Miami Dolphins stepped in to cut off his plunge with pick No. 13, Tunsil admitted he was indeed the young man in question.
OK, before we go into the specifics of why Laremy Tunsil's consumption of marijuana should be a non-issue, let's clear the air a bit on that ESPN article. To be fair, the article was pr0-Laremy Tunsil. However, binge drinking, publicly exposing yourself, and publicly urinating on someone's property is not the same thing as consuming cannabis. Not at all. Not even close. And consuming cannabis certainly isn't 50 times worse.
But I get the point that the author of the article was trying to make, that the level of embarrassment was monumental for Mr. Tunsil. I personally would be a million times more embarrassed to be caught running naked and urinating on cars, and I think that it speaks sad volumes that for many members of society, consuming cannabis would be 50 times worse that what the author of the ESPN article described. That's how strong cannabigotry is in sports.
Laremy Tunsil is 21 years old, and if he had been doing what he was doing where I live, Oregon, it would have been perfectly legal. Cannabis is 114 times safer than alcohol, yet I have a feeling that if Mr. Tunsil was just throwing back some beers in the video footage in question, it would have been a non-issue. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see people in the crowd on draft night hoot and holler in support and celebration. How many players on draft night went out for a long night of celebration at a bar, and drank to their hearts content, and no one batted an eye? A bit of a double standard?
What about the simple act of consuming cannabis is wrong? There was some other stuff found in Mr. Tunsil's social media accounts involving NCAA player violations for accepting money, but that's a different issue, and I'll leave that to the TheCollegePlayersGettingPaidBlog.Com to discuss. That's sarcasm of course. I don't think that blog exists (feel free to swoop up the domain!). For the purpose of this article, and for any article that I write about drug testing and public shaming of cannabis consumers (stoner shaming as Steve DeAngelo calls it), I want to know why simply consuming cannabis in a private setting, as a responsible adult, is wrong?
How can a professional sports franchise look at a very talented young athlete and say, 'You know what, I love everything about this guy, he is going to crush it in this league. However, he consumes a plant that has never killed anyone, is safer than alcohol, mellows him out, and can be used for wellness purposes to great effect, but clearly we CANNOT have a guy like that our team.' Some will say, 'But he was using a gas mask bong!' To those people I would ask, why does that matter? Would it have been different if he had been consuming a joint? How about via a vaporizer? I have a feeling that the outcry would have been the same.
Laremy Tunsil did nothing wrong when he consumed cannabis. He didn't go on a crime spree. He didn't harm anyone. He didn't even intend for anyone to ever see what he was doing, which is why it took a hacker to obtain and release it for people to see it that Laremy didn't want to see it. Why is it that professional sports teams are willing to look past so many other things, including very violent acts involving harm caused to others, but when it comes to cannabis it's one of the worst things that an athlete could do?
It's time that cannabigotry ended in professional sports, and beyond. I personally think that the sports cannabis movement, led by entities like the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition and Uncle Spliffy, is going to be instrumental in making that happen. Professional athletes have a very loud voice, and the more of them that speak up in support of reform the sooner cannabigotry ends, and the sooner that professional athletes don't have to be stoner shamed for making the safer choice.