Lead photo via Flickr user Parker Anderson
Now more than ever, professional athletes from all four of America’s prominent sports leagues are using their public platform to call attention to the benefits of medical marijuana for all-natural pain and stress relief. So far though, little has changed in the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL, with cannabis still squarely on the banned substances list in all four leagues. But as our cultural idea of a normal cannabis user changes from the image of a long-haired hippie shunning normative society to a middle-aged person using White Widow to replace an evening glass of whiskey, it’s possible that pressure from cannabis supporters — and not players or coaches — will be the eventual straw to break the back of pro sports’ baseless marijuana ban.
To find out just how much marijuana users actually care about sports, cannabis consumer analytics company Green Market Report teamed up with Consumer Research Around Cannabis and their partner Local Sports Insights to survey 1,292 cannabis users across 32 American metropolitan areas, asking participants which, if any, pro sports they are fans of. The research aimed to compile a comprehensive look at what percentage of stoners are lighting up for Lonzo Ball and the Lakers or Tom Brady and the Patriots, and what kind of lives those 420-friendly fans are living.
Like Americans in general, pot-loving sports fans prefer football over basketball, baseball, and hockey, with over 55% of cannabis-consuming respondents saying that they regularly follow the NFL. Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association were the second and third favorites, with 36.2% and 36.1% support from cannabis users, respectively.
Breaking down the cannabis and NFL venn diagram even further, the collaborative consumer report pegs the average Sunday tailgate smoker as a 37-year-old man with an income hovering slightly above $60,000 a year. As far as gender dynamics are concerned, 65.5% of those who picked football as their favorite sport were men and 34.5% were women.
Even in the face of boycotts from both sides of the political aisle over the pre-game kneeling protests started by former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, a recent Gallup poll reported that 57% of Americans still follow the NFL. This might suggest that the country’s cannabis-consuming community might more closely resemble America’s mainstream than stereotypes might have us otherwise believe.
Spokespeople for the companies behind the cannabis consumer study noted they were surprised to find football at the top of the heap, especially considering the widespread celebrity of NBA superstars like LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant.
“I was surprised that football was number one,” Debra Borchardt, Co-Founder and CEO of the Green Market Report, said. “I really thought basketball would’ve been number one since it’s a sport followed by more young people and is growing in popularity, while ratings have been falling for football.”
Although it may not have been expected that the cannabis users surveyed had closer ties to the NFL than the NBA, the association could be a godsend, with football players subject to incredible amounts of physical trauma that could be significantly helped by medical marijuana — if it is ever allowed in the league.
“This study was encouraging because the most vocal advocates for allowing cannabis as an alternative to deadly pain medications are professional football players,” Cynthia Salarizadeh, Co-Founder of the Green Market Report, said. “The NFL helps provide an appropriate platform for their fight with their massive visibility. Hopefully their owners will listen and allow their players the right to choose what medication they use for their pain management.”
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