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Professional football player David Irving is standing up against the NFL’s ban on cannabis. On Thursday, the athlete publicly declared that he will no longer play for a league that does not respect his right to consume the plant medicinally.
Irving, who has is currently serving an indefinite suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy — the third such suspension of his career — announced his decision to fans through Instagram Live. In the video, he described the hypocrisy of NFL doctors prescribing dangerous pharmaceuticals while chastising cannabis — all while Irving puffed away on a joint.
“So, basically guys, I quit. They want to talk about suspension and all this other nonsense; I’m outta there. I’m not doing this shit no more,” Irving told fans in the lengthy selfie video. “Some people are like ‘oh you’re addicted to weed,’ but shit, if I’m going to be addicted to something, I’d rather it be marijuana, which is medicine... rather than the Xanax bars or the hydros or the seroquel that they feed you.”
Irving discussed his issues with the league’s unfair pay structure, and the institutionalized racism that led to the blackballing of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He then questioning why athletes in other professional sports, coaches in professional sports, or Hollywood actors don’t get chastised for cannabis use, while NFL players face threats to their livelihoods if they test positive for pot.
And save the occasional NBA suspension, Irving is absolutely right. In a recent long-read published by ESPN, it’s detailed just how prevalent — and normalized — marijuana use is in the NHL, including one player openly admitting to hitting a vape pen after every game.
“Everyone questions my commitment to football, but let’s get it straight here and now, I love football,” Irving said on his live stream. “However, I don’t love the NFL. The NFL is not football. What y’all see us do — the game and shit — that’s only 20% of all the shit we have to go through.”
“We got this opioid thing going on and I’m prescribed all that bullshit, and I just think it’s bullshit that we’ve got to deal with that policy,” Irving continued. “Everyone thinks it’s about smoking weed. It’s not about smoking weed. It’s much bigger than that. Much, much bigger. Hell, I have concussions every day. I get to see around the office how that fucks your head up and I feel it.”
The NFL currently bans all forms of cannabis, and disciplines players with fines and suspensions if they test positive for THC. League officials have expressed willingness to rework those policies in the future — with recent rumors indicating that rule changes might be coming soon. But until those changes are actually made, Irving and other NFL cannabis advocates face a tough decision; either put down the pot or find another job.
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