by Rick Thompson/September 23, 2019
LANSING- After their playing days are over, professional athletes are finding careers in cannabis. From CBD to THC, from the NFL to the NHL and NBA, former players are capitalizing on their celebrity as they launch or support cannabis industry companies.
In March of this year NFL standout tight end Rob Gronkowski retired from football and simultaneously announced a partnership with a CBD company. The New England Patroits loss was Abacus Health Products gain. The company announced Gronk would be promoting their products and collaborating on developing new medicines.
In August former Detroit Red Wing and four-time Stanley Cup champion Darren McCarty announced a partnership with Pincanna, a medical marijuana retail operation located on the shores of Lake Huron. McCarty revealed in a recent episode of his podcast, Grind Time with Darren McCarty, that a product line branded with his name is in the works.
McCarty credits cannabis for saving his life from addiction to alcohol and drugs. He endorsed and supported the movement to legalize the adult use of cannabis in Michigan, including making Hash Bash speeches and public appearances to drive attention to the petition drive.
NFL legend Calvin Johnson and former teammate Rob Sims are partners in a cannabis product line called ‘Primitive’. Johnson was also recently named to the Board of Directors of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, a newly-formed trade association.
Megatron and Sims will be joining McCarty on Saturday October 12 as they address conference attendees at the Michigan Commercial Cannabis Conference and Expo. The event takes place at the TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Hall, in downtown Detroit.
On September 27 former NBA star Al Harrington will appear at the TCF Center as part of the ‘Cultivating a Successful Cannabusiness’ seminar hosted by Cannabis Legal Group. Harrington is the CEO of Viola Extracts, a product line he named in honor of his grandmother, who uses and receives benefit from cannabis-based medicines.
Further out state, former Green Bay Packer Matt Wilhelm is delivering a speech in Temperance, Michigan on September 23. He has launched a company called Clean Remedies. Wilehlm, an All-American athlete in college and a Super Bowl champion, will deliver a basic CBD education class.
Benzinga, the Detroit-based cannabis promotions company, hosted former NFL star Ricky Williams at their swanky Campus Martius offices as he pitched his new company and product line Real Wellness to eager Michigan entrepreneurs.
This year’s Hash Bash featured former Detroit Piston and NFL star John Salley as a speaker. Salley has a cannabis company called Deuces22, a reference to the number worn on his jersey during his playing days.
Larry DePalma, a former NHL player, joined McCarty in publicly supporting the passage of Michigan’s legalization of cannabis proposal. Todd Herremans, former NFL player and Michigan resident, spoke with footballer Eugene Monroe at Hash Bash in 2017. The following day the NFL duo appeared at a Green Wolverine seminar at the University of Michigan to discuss professional athletes and cannabis.
Herremans, a former Saginaw Valley State standout, is a member of Athletes for Care, an organization advocating for cannabis use to replace other drugs. “Herremans is founding partner in BodyChek Wellness, a premium hemp extract product line designed to optimize health and enhance everyday performance, as well as ThetaHemp, a Pennsylvania-based industrial hemp grow initiative with additional product lines set to hit market in 2019,” per the Athletes website.
Eugene Monroe joined the leadership at Green Thumb Industries, know for their dispensary chain called ‘Rise’. The company has offices in Nevada, California and Illinois with retail locations in several additional states.
In 2018 Mike James made history by being the first active player to take a stand on cannabis law reform at the Hash Bash event. The Detroit Lion spoke openly about the need for NFL rules to evolve away from opioid pain killers and into a field of non-addictive medical solutions. He was featured in Weed 4, a documentary by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.