Skip to main content

Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon continues to speak out about the benefits of medical marijuana, but in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated’s Maggie Gray, he upped the ante, saying the reason the NFL still prohibits cannabis is because the league is “in cahoots with big pharma.”

Despite the proven benefits of cannabis, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asserts its prohibition is ‘in the interest of the players.’ But, as McMahon flatly stated, “That’s BS.”

Cannabis was responsible for ending his long-term use of dangerous narcotic painkillers, which he used to treat debilitating pain resulting from multiple injuries while playing football. McMahon claims players are pushed into taking pills for a specific reason — one that has nothing to do with their care.

“They want you taking their pills,” the outspoken former star told Gray. “I think they’re in cahoots with big pharma. My whole career they were pushing pills on me. For whatever ailment you had, they had a pill for it and that’s the reason they’re demonizing this plant the way they are.

“You wouldn’t have these problems, with all these guys with their head injuries, these kinds of things, their joints and stuff like that. This stuff is so much better for you, there’s no side effects, it doesn’t kill anybody, there’s no documented cases of people dying, but there’s hundreds of thousands of people dying every year from these pills.”

Throughout his career, McMahon suffered numerous concussions and other injuries which left him in severe pain, and caused memory loss, vision, and speech problems — symptoms only covered up by dangerous, legal prescription meds. He feels strongly medical marijuana would be the safer option for current and former players.

So rampant is the league’s pill-pushing, as John Vibes previously reported for The Free Thought Project, “last year federal drug agents raided a number of NFL teams under suspicion of illegally dispensing legal drugs to their players.”

McMahon said the cycle of treating his injuries with harmful prescription painkillers extended some five years past the end of his career — up to 100 Percocets per month — until he discovered medical cannabis.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

“They were doing more harm than good,” he said previously of the pills. “This medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain — or thinking about it, anyway.”

As the former football star told Gray, though his injuries were themselves debilitating, the pills weren’t improving his situation.

“I used to go months without leaving my room. Just sit my the dark room, watch the ceiling fan go around — my head was hurting so bad that I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. I couldn’t remember things. I couldn’t really function.”

Elaborating further, McMahon said treating the pain of repeated brain injuries with pills, rather than properly diagnosing those injuries, leaves many players in despair — and has led more than a few to commit suicide.

“I was in the same boat. If I had a gun, I wouldn’t be here,” he explained. “When you’re taking all these pain pills, I couldn’t sleep when I took them. I’d eat probably eight to ten a day of Percocet, and I couldn’t sleep. The only thing that helped me sleep was marijuana. So, I’ve been using it for a long time.”

Cannabis shows stunning promise for breaking dependency on painkillers, whose side effects can and often do include death. Big pharma’s herculean lobbying efforts have kept the plant out of reach of much of the public, and while some states have made steps toward decriminalization or legalization, it’s continued presence on the DEA’s list of Schedule I substances makes it easier for groups like the NFL to maintain its ban.

Narcotic painkillers are notoriously addictive, in part compounded by tolerance built over time — people take more and more pills to combat pain without getting much true relief. But cannabis offers a viable alternative — if, that is, the State will loosen it’s outdated, failed, and politicized prohibition.

As more advocates, particularly those with broad public platforms like McMahon, speak out about the benefits of medical marijuana, the public’s long suspicion of the plant — helped by decades of negative and false government propaganda — has begun to loosen.