Desperate Need For Safe Pain Relief Forced These NFL And NBA Stars To Join The Cannabis Industry – (NASDAQ:AMZN), Walmart (NYSE:WMT)

Athletes of all kinds are helping to change the way the rest of us view and interact with cannabis. Their combined contribution has been key to removing the stigma against cannabis users while normalizing its use and consumption. Light years away from the stereotypical stoner of the 1970’s, elite athletes are pushing the envelope and some are opening up new markets and business opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs and companies.

NFL and NBA icon Calvin Johnson, Al Harington, Ben Wallace, Rick Williamsand Rob Sims visited the last Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago, where they participated in a panel moderated by High Times VP of Content, Jon Capetta.

They talked about their cannabis businesses and their personal experiences. Across the board, her quest for non-addictive and effective pain relief compelled her to embrace cannabis.

primitive group

Calvin Johnson, who has set and broken countless records during his nine seasons with the Detroit Lions holds the NFL record for most yards in a season (1,964) 2021 NFL Hall of Famer and co-founder of Primiv.

Johnson founded the Primiv Group with his former Lions teammate Rob Simms.

“I saw what opioids did to my family members, and cannabis was the only other thing that could relieve some of the pain,” said Johnson, who explained the origin of the brand name.

“Cannabis was the only thing that could really ease some of the pain, some of those sleepless nights. I guess you could say it was a godsend, I mean the plan is primitive. That’s how we got our name ‘Primitive’ because people have used it as a medicine since time immemorial.”

high man

A Heisman Trophy Winner in the NFL at age 11 and among the best running backs in college football history, Rick Williams Founded high manwhich initially sells “premium quality cannabis” along with weed-related clothing and accessories in California, Oregon, and Nevada.

“Highsman is about recognizing greatness. Behind the brand is a passionate and dedicated team, and together we want to help all people inspire greatness within themselves,” said Williams.

Recalling the first time he tried weed in college, he told the full Chicago auditorium Palmer House Hotel how it became part of his “self-care routine.”

“Coaches in college use drug testing to get rid of boys. It was a big taboo. If the trainer knows you smoke, they will usually make life difficult for you. It lasted until my senior year… I was having a really bad week and my roommate was smoking, so he said, “You need to relax.” So he pushed his bong over. That night I started imagining I was actually getting better, and over the next two weeks I had over 300 yards rushing and that’s when I kind of knew there was something here,” Williams said. “Then I got into the NFL and it became part of my self-care routine.”


The Amazing Career of Ben Wallace: four-time NBA All-Star, five-time All-Defense First Team, four-time Defensive Player of the Year, and the only undefeated and undrafted player in association history to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. After retiring, he founded the Detroit-based cannabis brand, which he aptly “Undrafted.’

“Marijuana was one of the things where we lost a lot of our brothers to incarceration,” Wallace said, adding that the industry also serves as a catalyst for the black and brown community. “It works and preserves health and life and also does a great job of bringing the fraternity back together.”

A life saver for some. “Cannabis has been a life saver. It works, and it works quickly – and it doesn’t last long.”


NBA star Al Harrington who has played a full 16 seasons, is among the biggest advocates of legalizing cannabis in sports. He founded Viola, a multi-state brand named after his grandmother with offices in California, Colorado, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington. The company had sales of approximately $20 million in 2021. Harrington’s RePlay CBD line is now sold on Amazon AMZN and at Walmart WMT.

Harrington told his grandmother’s story, which left more than a few panelists close to tears. Viola suffered from severe glaucoma. Harrington cautiously persuaded her to allow him to create a hotbox-like facility since she had never smoked. She inhaled the cannabis smoke for a few minutes, then he went to the kitchen to prepare lunch.

“I went back and checked on her and she looked at her Bible. When she heard me in the room, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, ‘I’m healed.’ It was the first time she had read the words in her Bible in three years.”

Harrington described his first experiences with cannabis and how CBD helped him manage pain after multiple surgeries. “I had a botched knee surgery. I thought it would kill me. I was in the hospital for about two weeks on so much medication I was just miserable,” Harrington said. He tried CBD on a friend’s recommendation, after which he underwent four or five surgeries and never went back to pharmaceutical drugs.

Harrington’s Beginner Days

Harrington related how he was sent into a shop by one of the older players, only to find the “shop” was a place where four or five veteran players were smoking weed. At first he was shocked, but soon came to a realization.

“I realized I had been lied to all along. Because I was taught that if you smoke weed you’re unproductive, basically a ‘couch potato’, but these guys just played at the top of the game,” Harrington said.

Photo: Benzinga

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