By Ed Coghlan
When the coach of a marquee professional team talks about using medical marijuana—we should pay attention.
Steve Kerr is the coach of the Golden State Warriors, who won the NBA Championship in 2015 and just missed adding to it last year. And this year, the Warriors own the best record in the league through the first quarter of the season.
That’s the sports report.
His comments off the floor this week made news that matters to chronic pain patients and the medical marijuana movement.
“I guess maybe I could even get in some trouble for this, but I’ve actually tried [marijuana] twice during the last year and a half when I’ve been going through this pain, this chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with,” Kerr told Inside Warriors podcast host Monte Poole.
Kerr famously missed half of last season in what became a very long recovery from back surgery. We never found out why the rehabilitation took so long—but it was obvious he wasn’t up to the travelling and the grind of an NBA season. He’s still hurting.
And to address the pain, like many of us, he tried different things.
“A lot of research, a lot of advice from people, and I have no idea if I would – maybe I would have failed a drug test. I don’t even know if I’m subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA, but I tried it, and it didn’t help at all. But it was worth it, because I’m searching for answers on pain. But I’ve tried painkillers and drugs of other kinds, as well, and those have been worse. It’s tricky.”
Why all this matters, is Steve Kerr is saying it.
Kerr is a smart, thoughtful guy who understands that saying he used medical marijuana can be another step towards what he hopes may help professional sports leagues soften their stances on marijuana use – believing it is a better alternative to what players are being handed for pain today.
Trust me, if the pro sports leagues start to allow their players to use marijuana to address the pain, a lot of the resistance that still exists in the federal government and beyond may be more closely examined.
There are twenty-two states that have not yet approved marijuana for medical use. (See this map) Voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas just approved it last month. The trend is moving in the direction of medical marijuana being available for everyone.
Steve Kerr talking about it won’t hurt that momentum.