When you think of football fans, you don’t usually think of stoners. The tailgater in your mind’s eye likely is chugging from a beer bong shirtless, with “DUCK FALLAS” scrawled across his chest. But, these high times, they are a-changing. For real evidence, you don’t have to look any further than across the street from Mile High Stadium in Denver. There you will see a beautiful image of things to come in all of its glory: the Mile High Cannabis and Damian Marley’s Stony Hill dispensaries.
Unfortunately, there is still some distance between the attitudes outside the stadium and the official position inside. The Broncos have towed the NFL’s current line of distaste for herb. The Broncos brass has stated, “Any form of marijuana consumption is prohibited on Sports Authority Field at Mile High property during public events, including in stadium parking lots.” Now that we’re fast approaching half the country legalizing marijuana, will this stance change?
“[High fans are] not gonna go and do anything crazy,” one mellow Denver Broncos fan told HBO’s Real Sports earlier this year, comparing cannabis to alcohol, which fuels a great deal of unruliness. That seems to be the general consensus among the NFL faithful. “Honestly, it’s no bother to me,” another Broncos fan from weed-free Arkansas told local news affiliate WLWT when asked for his thoughts on marijuana tailgating. “They’re gonna do their thing and I’m gonna do mine. I’m not worried about it.” Local reporter Todd Dykes summed up the general feeling among fans visiting Mile High as “different, but the same.”
A brief search yields article after article and video after video of visiting fans flocking to Seattle and Denver and seeing that not only is marijuana working in tailgating, but it might improve it. Some players have seen the lights, as evidenced by Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot’s visit to a Seattle dispensary over the summer. Although he was forced by the conservative buzz cuts at the NFL to apologize, it was clearly a positive experience for Elliot.
An analysis of the prospects for marijuana at tailgates actually looks more like marijuana is not just “different, but the same.” In many ways, marijuana has made tailgating “different, but better.” As is evidenced by the marijuana stores a stone’s throw from the Bronco’s stadium, legalization is a boon to the local economy. Following the Seahawks Super Bowl victory in 2014, Seattle area dispensaries reported record sales. While many drinkers may opt not to smoke their way through tailgates, fans who previously didn’t have access to their buzz of choice will be funneling cash into the local community. That means more happy customers enjoying the game on their own terms, and more local businesses and communities thriving.
Another benefit of fans toking before games is that it might normalize marijuana use for the players. The NFL has been notoriously stringent on players using marijuana. Steelers fans know this all too well after losing both running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Martavis Bryant to marijuana suspensions over the last several years. This is particularly difficult for many NFL players to grasp, given the drug’s effectiveness as a pain reliever. While they are allowed to take drugs prone to nurturing a dependence, they can’t smoke the non-addictive herb. Numerous players have called upon the NFL over the years to shift away from its backwards drug policy, and widespread fan support might help to bring about the change they need.
The benefits of marijuana use at tailgates are financial, recreation, and even medical. In all the articles chronicling the use of weed by Seahawks and Broncos fans, the only complaint you’ll come across is the worry that some of the fans might not be able to stay awake through the fourth quarter, and crowd noise won’t be as great an advantage. While a frosty Budweiser is as American as apple pie and concussion protocols, here’s hoping that other NFL fan bases will soon see that marijuana and tailgating are a match smoked in Heaven.