Pot-Smoking Phelps Isn’t Alone Among Athletes

Olympic champion Michael Phelps is in good company as a world-class athlete who uses marijuana. It’s a pity that he couldn’t have been brave enough to stand up for his relationship with the world’s most wonderful plant, instead of half-heartedly apologizing in an effort to salvage his sponsorship contracts.

If Phelps had been closer to the end of his career and with less to lose by being honest, then maybe he would have taken the approach of two-time Super Bowl champion Mark Stepnoski. After retiring from the NFL in 2001, Stepnoski became an outspoken legalization advocate who confirmed “responsible use” of marijuana during his pro career.” After a game you need something to relax,” said Stepnoski. “I’d rather smoke than take painkillers.”

Indeed, many top athletes in a variety of sports use marijuana because of its medicinal effects as a painkiller, muscle relaxant and antidepressant.

Ricky Williams is another NFL player who has spoken out about the benefits of marijuana, despite it costing him endorsements and almost his entire football career. Williams has repeatedly been punished for failing urine tests and was briefly a spokesperson for the antidepressant Paxil, which he was prescribed to treat his social anxiety disorder. That endorsement deal ended when Williams told ESPN that “marijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil.”

Williams has a prescription for medicinal marijuana, but NFL rules make no exception for medicinal use of marijuana, despite the fact that 25% of Americans live in states where some medical use of marijuana is legal. Olympic rules also don’t make exemptions for medicinal use either, yet marijuana is accepted as a legal medicine in Canada, Germany, Italy, Holland and other nations.

When Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati had his 1998 Olympic gold medal temporarily withdrawn due to his failing a urine test for pot, many pundits observed that pot use was common among West Coast skiers. But marijuana use crosses all sporting boundaries.

“I personally know boxers, body builders, cyclists, runners and athletes from all walks of life that train and compete with the assistance of marijuana,” said WWE wrestler Rob Van Dam in an article he wrote for Cannabis Culture Magazine, “but they might not feel comfortable sharing this information.”

Some of the best cricket players of all time, like Phil Tufnell and Sir Ian Botham, have admitted to regularly using marijuana to deal with the stress and muscle aches common to all athletes. In 2001, half of South Africa’s cricket team was punished after being caught toking up with the team physiotherapist; they were celebrating a championship victory in the Caribbean.

Regular marijuana use didn’t impede the ability of basketball legends like Rasheed Wallace, Charles Oakley or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Indeed, Oakley has claimed that over half of NBA players smoke pot before each game. Since these players are top athletes whose career depends on them being at peak performance for every game, it stands to reason that perhaps they are using marijuana because it provides some benefit to their abilities on the court.

Most sports officials don’t consider marijuana to be a performance-enhancing drug, and generally the ban against its use is justified as a matter of ensuring that athletes project the right image for their young admirers.

Yet considering how many top athletes use marijuana, is it possible that marijuana can sometimes be performance enhancing in ways other than easing stress and reducing pain?

Users of marijuana have long noted how the herb creates a peculiar perception that time is extended, dubbed “time slowdown” by pot-promoting poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965.

Like a stoned jazz musician adding more complexity and beats to a song, time slowdown might allow an athlete to more rapidly evaluate different options, more quickly consider moves and maneuvers against competing players.

Most marijuana research is done to show some sort of harm from the use of this plant, but not enough is being done to understand how cannabis can actually enhance and improve human abilities. Discovering how toking up possibly helps the world’s greatest athletes to better their performance could also teach us how this plant can better serve us all.

Dana Larsen is the founder of the Vancouver Medical Cannabis Dispensary and the author of Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone. He is also a former member of parliament candidate for Canada’s New Democratic Party.

– Article from Forbes Magazine.



  1. Anonymous on

    start buying Toaster Strudels…. they taste better anyways

  2. Anonymous on

    yeah i support the boycott of kelloggs but poptarts are just so damn good. maybe ill just buy 1 box a month.

  3. Nigtmove on


    Why is it that once you have been deemed someone to be looked up to or a hero or role model or whatever,
    you are no longer suppose to be the person that you are?

    You should now step out of your persona and become a cardboard cutout of some committee’s ideal version of a persona.

    And you don’t even get to be on the committee.

    That suck’s

  4. e roc on

    THIS phelps shit is really out of hand. Does anyone care to mention that what he did is not only ok, but good for him? The media is a culprit in keeping the public ignorant. By the way, smoking actually increases blood flow to the cardio system, giving the athelete a better time breathing. No justice no peace f*** the police!!! oaksterdam

  5. Anonymous on

    Learn to spell. Retard.

  6. Anonymous on

    That did it.

  7. Kellogg Variety Pack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack on

    I said,F%&6cK it, you know?A world without Phelps and Tony the Tiger hangin’, maxin’ chillin’,shuckin’, and jivin’ on the box ain’t worth livin’.

  8. Anonymous on


  9. Anonymous on

    Is Kellogg insane?? They should Know that Marijuana is a major source of the “MUNCHIES” Alienating Marijuana folk by dropping Phelps, will cause hell on their bottom line. Another Company out of touch with reality!!

  10. Anonymous on

    Go to http://www2.kelloggs.com/ContactUs.aspx and send them a comment through the “request more information” portion of this page. Tell them you will boycott all their brands and follow through. I did. (I will miss the Cheez-Its though.)


  11. Anonymous on

    Boycott Kellogg s !!!!! Let them Know their decision to drop Phelps is at odds with the majority of the people

  12. Nigtmove on

    I no longer purchase Kellogg’s product.

  13. Anonymous on

    Kellogg just dropped him as a sponsor. I’m calling those fuckers in the morning.

  14. Anonymous on

    And let’s not forget that in 2001 Chris Sharma, one of the world’s top rock climbers, was stripped of his World Cup medal after testing positive for marijuana. Chris is climbing’s Michael Phelps, and I certainly didn’t lose any respect for him. Perhaps as more people see that even top athletes use pot recreationally, the demonization of cannabis will begin to fade into obscure history.