Eugene Monroe Opens Up About His Transition From Pro Football Into the Cannabis Industry
In a feature interview with ESPN, ex-Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman turned cannabis entrepreneur discusses why he decided to fight for cannabis use in the NFL.
Published on November 3, 2016

Before the start of this year’s NFL season, ex-Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe was preparing to play his eighth season in the league. But, the now full-time cannabis advocate and entrepreneur was not willing to subside his support for cannabis use as a replacement for the opiates that so many professional athletes are prescribed. Monroe’s pro-marijuana stance is assumed to be a part of the reason that the Ravens decided to cut him at the start of the season, and though the talented player received interest from other teams, he ultimately decided that his undying love for the game wasn’t worth the risk on his health.

In his lengthy feature interview with ESPN, Monroe takes readers through his life as a football addict who found cannabis to be the solution to all of the pain and mental issues that came with the game. His agent Sunny Shah advised against taking his pro-cannabis stance while he was still in the league, which treats cannabis with the same severity as it does heroin. 

Monroe grew up as the youngest of 16, and with a mother who struggled with an addiction to crack cocaine, the professional football player never touched drugs in his childhood. He instead became addicted to playing football, becoming one of the most promising athletes from his hometown of Plainfield, New Jersey. After suffering a serious knee injury at just 19, Monroe spent most of his college and professional career under the influence of Vicodin and Oxycontin.

After seeing Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary Weed, Monroe realized that cannabis was a much better alternative than opiates to treat his constant pain. Monroe underwent a number of debilitating and painful injuries in 2015, and soon saw the effect that addictive opioid painkillers had on him, leading  him to the decision to share his thoughts in an interview with CNN. According to Monroe, his disdain for the feeling the prescription painkillers gave him influenced him to seek out  and alternative for managing his pain. Knowing well that he was at risk of being cut from the Ravens for all of his injuries that year, the football player decided bring his cannabis advocacy public while he still could. 

The offensive lineman is now a family man, and his wife recognizes that cannabis has allowed him to focus less on pain and more on his children. Nowadays, Monroe has hung up the football helmet to be an advocate and entrepreneur in the cannabis industry. The ex-football player is now a partner with the Illinois-based cultivator and distributor Green Thumb Industries, and took part in opening of their medical marijuana dispensary in Carson City, Nevada. 

Monroe is much more than just an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry, he is also the official "athletics ambassador" for Doctors for Cannabis Regulationhas donated a generous amount of money to cannabis research, and wrote an open letter to the NFL formally requesting that them to reconsider its marijuana policy. Despite the fact that Monroe has retired for a more peaceful family life, he is still determined to help NFL players get access to medical cannabis. When it comes down to it, Monroe knows his advocacy will make a difference because it should be a moral obligation for the NFL to keep players out of harm’s way the best they can. 

"I know I'm doing the right thing," Monroe said in the interview. "People don't need to go through this. And if I know that something can prevent this from happening, why would anyone oppose it?”

Tyler Koslow
Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.
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