LZ Granderson

My name is LZ Granderson and I smoke pot. Not in a wishy-washy/Clintonesque “I didn’t inhale” sort of way, but rather in a depending-on-what-time-you-are-reading-this-I-could-be-high-right-now sort of way.

Because I’m a black man of a certain age with a head full of locs, this proclamation could easily be met with a cynical shoulder shrug followed by “of course you smoke pot, look at you.”

And although I treat cannabis with the same respect and caution as I do alcohol, I’m sure there are some readers who are disappointed the Los Angeles Times would publish such a statement because, in their eyes, it undermines credibility.

It’s for these and other reasons that when I’ve found myself in mixed company I’ve been far less prone to chat about cannabis than alcohol, political affiliation or even religion. My experience is that other professionals are similarly hesitant. Stereotypes are a lot of things, including debilitating. But I’m one of roughly 900,000 people who use cannabis in Los Angeles County, an increase of 3% from 2005 to 2015, according to a county report.

However, four-time NBA champion John Salley isn’t crippled by the stigmas still associated with pot use. Recently, Salley — who won championships with the Detroit Pistons, the Chicago Bulls and the Lakers — was announced as the new executive vice president of marketing for Leading Edge Pharmaceuticals. The company develops topical CBD-based products, which Salley has used to treat chronic pain that has kept him up at night post-career.

Later this year, he and his 22-year-old daughter, Tyla, will launch the premium cannabis business Deuces 22, which includes an online “academy” designed to educate site visitors on the plant’s benefits.

Salley, vegan and a health enthusiast, is the latest high-profile former professional athlete to take a hit off a business opportunity expected to gross upward of $70 billion globally by 2030. Joe Montana, Tiki Barber, Matt Barnes, Al Harrington and Mike Tyson are just a few of the names attached.

The professional leagues from whence they came, however, continue to test and punish players for use. No professional sports league has allowed its players to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

One can only assume they will do so until cannabis is decriminalized at the federal level. To be sensibly proactive would either put them at odds with the government or sponsors who may be hesitant to spend money on a league full of pot heads.

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