Forbes: Former NFL Player opens first Florida dispensary with RISE

National Football League, are you listening? Since the onslaught of the medical and recreational marijuana industries, retired and current professionals have come out of the cannabis closet in droves, advocating for the accepted use for athletes, entering the space as investors and launching brands of their own.

In a 2016 survey of 226 of the NFL’s nearly 3,000 players on active rosters or practice squads, ESPN found that 61 percent believed that players would take fewer injections of strong anti-inflammatory drugs such as Toradol if they could treat pain legally with marijuana. In another study, ESPN reported that 71% of 644 NFL players surveyed misused opioids.

just-reported ban on an Acreage Holdings advertisement during Super Bowl LIII is an indicator that there’s still a substantial stigma surrounding the medicinal use of marijuana that stretches beyond stadiums, which is only going to make players in support of its consumption ready to rumble even more.

The NFL Players Association has made inroads with league-supported research on the use of marijuana as an alternative to painkillers and a government patent suggests that CBD can help in treating neurological trauma like CTE.

Thanks to an increasing number of retired and current players speaking out about the NFL’s reefer madness mentality 2019 could be the year professional football could make real progress. Here are five former NFL stars who are leading the charge in taking this controversial conversation closer to the end zone:

Eugene Monroe

Diversity Consultant, Green Thumb Industries

As the first-ever active NFL player to publicly share he consumes marijuana in 2016 — an act that caused the Baltimore Ravens to terminate his contract — Monroe’s voice has only gotten louder. He penned a trio of columns for The Cannabist about his mission to “get the NFL to accept cannabinoids as a viable option for pain management” and serves on the Board of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation and HealthyUNow and is a supporter of the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Athletes for Care. Monroe cites overly-present and overly-prescribed opioids as the main factor in speaking out and in a Newsweek interviewsaid, “Those are powerful drugs. Many people who take them get addicted. There’s no secret: It’s one of the deepest issues in our country right now.” Monroe joined Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries (GTI) in 2016, where he consults on engaging diverse communities and research initiatives for the medical marijuana cultivation and dispensary company.