Eben Britton's budding NFL career in Jacksonville was riddled with injuries.
In what he calls a laundry list of injuries, he says during his professional football career he suffered a repeated dislocated shoulder, a torn labrum, damaged discs in his back, sciatica running down his legs and torn muscles all over his body.
The impact and violence of the game never turned him off to the sport he loved, but what he was given for treatment often did.
"The most accepted way in the league to deal with all that pain was prescription opiates," Britton said. "I felt the strong grip of opiates, I had a very negative experience, making me feel crazy, irrational, and full of rage."
He credits his success in managing his pain to his knowledge of how to use cannabis.
Though marijuana remains on the NFL's banned substances list, he said knowing the annual 'street drug' test helped him stay under the radar. Using cannabis products, Britton said he noticed dramatic changes compared to his prescribed meds.
"It eased the pain, it helped me sleep, it helped me heal and recover, and for that, I was very grateful coming out of my football career I was able to leave the pills behind," said Britton.
The former offensive lineman along with former Jaguars player Eugene Monroe have become advocates calling out their one-time employer for failing to change its drug policy.
"In such an intense, extreme environment as the game of football, you'd like to see the league taking steps to ensure the safety and well being long-term of its players," said Britton.
Twenty-nine states have some form of legalized marijuana, and 22 states have an NFL team. Even if the team's state allows marijuana use, the athletes that play there are still bound by NFL policy. The seven states with NFL teams that prohibit the drug are Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Last weekend, the Monroe and Britton were featured in a summit presentation for cannabis training company Green Flower Media in California. Green Flower CEO Max Simon said professional athletes help quell what he calls misconceptions about marijuana to get high versus marijuana for medicinal purposes.
"When you have these very fit, lean, professional athletes, sharing their personal story that cannabis has provided to their own lives, I think it helps people open their minds to the possibility," Simon said.
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