Professional athletes continue to flock toward the cannabis industry in terms of partnerships, entrepreneurship and ultimately, to provide a better wellness option for everyday treatment for sports-related injuries and life in general. From the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Football League (NFL) to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and every sport in between, these athletes are bravely stepping up for cannabis and its boundless medicinal possibilities.
From the court to the board room, Al Harrington is making a mark on the cannabis industry. He gained fame as a former NBA player who played for 16 seasons on many different teams. Like many other professional athletes, Harrington turned to cannabis for medicinal treatment after sports-related injuries led to surgeries. Most recently, Harrington founded a cannabis company, Viola, which is actually named after another one of his inspirations for supporting cannabis—his grandmother Viola who suffers from glaucoma and diabetes. His company is seeing great success, as its operations are currently in Colorado, Michigan and California, with plans to continue expansion this year.
Two things that Canada is now famous for—cannabis and hockey—have come together in a therapeutic way. Jeff Friesen, former NHL player and Canadian professional ice hockey player, is a prominent cannabis advocate. Known for winning a Stanley Cup trophy and being recognized in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Friesen added vocal cannabis advocate to his résumé when he partnered with the biotech firm, NanoSphere Health Sciences Inc., as part of a campaign that was aimed to provide athletes with resources about benefits of medical cannabis. Friesen himself found cannabis to be a beneficial treatment for the broken bones and other injuries he experienced while skating the ice. “Throughout my NHL career, I suffered multiple injuries and broken bones. I discovered from firsthand experience about the endless benefits of cannabis to reduce pain, inflammation, anxiety and improve sleep quality,” Friesen stated.
Known as a singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, cannabis activist and mother—Greta Gaines is also on the list of professional athletes who stand up for cannabis. Gaines has been internationally recognized as a pro snowboarder who earned the title of the first Women’s World Extreme Snowboard Champion. In addition to making headlines for her athleticism, Gaines is just as well known for her cannabis advocacy, as she has served as a representative of Women Grow. She has also been known as an advisory board member of NORML, Athletes for Care, Patients Out of Time and Tennesseans United. Gaines embarked into cannabis entrepreneurship as the founder of The Hempery, a company that sells hemp-based skin care products.
Some of the most prominent professional athletes who turned cannabis advocates come from the NFL. Nick Lowery is no exception. The former Kansas City Chiefs kicker has done important work with the White House Drug Abuse Policy Office. Now, he continues to speak out in support of cannabis research for a disease that is faced by many NFL and NHL players, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Lowery is now an associate with Kannalife Sciences, a company that specializes in groundbreaking research to develop a cannabinoid-based treatment for CTE. His activism for this important research only grew stronger after former NHL player, Todd Ewen, who had been diagnosed with CTE, tragically took his own life in 2015. “The world needs to know the truth about the connection between head trauma and long-term brain diseases,” said Lowery. “Though many researchers are just now looking into these suicide cases, Kannalife Sciences may be the only company truly working to change the future for the next generation of athletes.”