Marijuana has never been considered a performance-enhancing drug. Nonetheless, athletes have been suspended, had Olympic medals stripped, and have generally been ostracized from the athletic community for testing positive for cannabis for years. 

Thankfully things have changed, and the world (including the sporting world) has become more accepting of marijuana.

It has become welcoming of CBD for its many benefits, particularly for pain and recovery. CBD was recently a new addition to the cannabis market, and it is grown in popularity the past few years. 

Another new product in the industry includes the emergence of Delta 8 THC, which federally regulated hemp that you can now find at local smoke shops. 

This is extremely popular in states where marijuana has not been legalized. Those interested can go to heraldnet.com to see the top brands of Delta 8 to look for. 

But without a further ado, here’s a look at some of the athletic pot pioneers both old and new.

Ricky Williams

Ricky Williams is a former Heisman Trophy winner and longtime marijuana activist. He spent his career running over people in the NFL, giving a new meaning to the term, Sunday Scaries

As a weed-loving running back, he took a lot of heat during his NFL days and was suspended multiple times for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Facing one suspension, he retired from football temporarily to travel the world, smoke weed, and enlighten himself to different cultures. 

Williams has said that he suffers from social anxiety and that marijuana has always helped him cope. Long live the man they call Sticky Icky Ricky.

Riley Cote

Riley Cote spent years dropping the gloves in the blood sport known as ice hockey. After all those years as an enforcer and taking multiple blows to the grill in bare-knuckle fights, it’s no wonder he needed something to soothe the pain. 

Cote has been an active medical marijuana activist for years and even has his foundation called “Hemp Heals Foundation” to promote the benefits of the non-psychoactive variety of marijuana. 

Cote’s sister also uses marijuana to keep her multiple sclerosis symptoms in check, so cannabis is a family affair.

Kyle Turley

Kyle Turley spent ten years in the NFL as a lineman and has been said to have incurred over 100 concussions. To ease the pain, he abused pharmaceutical drugs, became depressed, and even had thoughts of suicide. 

He credits medical marijuana for saving his life and founded the “Gridiron Cannabis Coalition” to spread the word on the positive effects of marijuana. 
“It saved my life,” he says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today; I would not have my family, my kids, my house, everything I have right now, if not for cannabis.”

Nate Diaz

Like his brother Nick, UFC legend Nate Diaz is very open about his cannabis usage. He’s adamant about its positive effects on recovery and relaxation and wastes no time using it after a big fight. 

Diaz openly vaped CBD during his post-fight press conference at UFC 202.

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson used to be one scary dude. There’s a reason they call him the baddest man on the planet. After spending most of his life as a ruthless and feared pugilist, Iron Mike has taken a more chilled-out approach to retirement. 

Tyson made millions of dollars during his fighting career but has entered what might be his most lucrative venture of all—the cannabis game. 

Tyson founded the brand Tyson Ranch, which aims to create clear communication between growers and buyers. The website promises that every package with the “TR” logo on it will be of the highest quality.

Rob Gronkowski

Recent Super Bowl Champion and all-around legendary bro Rob Gronkowski has thrown his hat into the cannabis sphere. 

Gronk said that his father first introduced him to a CBD topical cream to soothe the pain of his constant football ailments. His father had used it for his back pain, and it had worked wonders for him. 

It seems to have worked for Rob, too, because he has now entered into a partnership with CBD products company, CBDMedic, to create a line of topical CBD pain treatments.

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe is a female soccer legend, a leading feminist, and a gay icon. She’s also a strong proponent of cannabis. 

Rapinoe is currently sponsored by a company called Mendi, which makes CBD recovery products for athletes. Rapinoe says that CBD has been instrumental in her training and recovery processes. 
“I wanted a healthier, more natural option for pain management, sleep aid, relaxation while flying, and general recovery.”

Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey is one of the most feared women on the planet. She’s also a fierce defendant of marijuana use when it comes to MMA. 

She came to the defense of fellow UFC fighter Nick Diaz when he was handed a five-year suspension for marijuana use.
“I’m sorry, but it’s so not right for him to be suspended five years for marijuana. I’m against testing for weed at all. It’s not a performance-enhancing drug. And it has nothing to do with competition. It's only tested for political reasons." 
Rousey also makes hemp seeds a regular part of her breakfast diet.


Now that marijuana is here to stay, it’s nice to look back at some of the forerunners in sports that stood by weed even when nobody else would. 

As an athlete, you take a lot of punishment, endure a ton of stress, and constantly put your body through the wringer. 

When you find something that works for your pain, you’re going to want to stick with it. We’re thankful these athletes did, and it’s great to finally have legal marijuana in the limelight.


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