6 Athletes Jumping into Cannabis
Several professional athletes in contact sports, retired and current, are coming out of the woodwork to talk about how they’ve used cannabis to treat various ailments they've suffered from as a result of their careers.

Many others are taking their interest a step further by investing in the cannabis industry and even starting their own businesses.

In 2029, the cannabis market is expected to be worth as much as $130 billion. Many may be looking to capitalize on this potentially profitable investment because cannabis is something they truly believe to be life changing. These athletes believe cannabis can change the way we deal with pain, anxiety, and other issues that are being controlled with pharmaceutical medications.

Here are six professional athletes who are pouncing on the cannabis bandwagon to launch business ventures.

Mike Tyson 

One of the world’s most well-known boxers is Mike Tyson, who became the youngest heavyweight boxing champion in the world at the age of 20. His incredible ability to knock out his opponents in one round earned him the nickname "Iron Mike." Since his days as a boxing champ, he's gone on to appear in many films, as well as a Broadway show and documentary about his life. 

Tyson was fined and temporarily suspended from boxing back in 2000, for testing positive for marijuana following his fight with Andrew Goleta. Now, Mike is being increasingly known for his support of cannabis. Not long after recreational marijuana became legal in California, the former heavyweight champion opened Tyson Ranch, a marijuana farm and resort that sells various strains of cannabis, as well as several extracts. He's also got a few additional features to be added to the luxury resort, including glamping tents, a cannabis edibles factory, and even a "Tyson Cultivation School" to teach new cannabis growers.

The ranch, located in California City, opened intending to grow marijuana and raise funds to pour into further research into the medical benefits of the plant and its derivatives. 

Mike joins a growing list of fighters who incorporate cannabis into their daily lives, with other notable supporters including Teofimo Lopez and Nate Diaz, both of whom use CBD to help deal with ailments stemming from their sports career.

But now, Mike is using marijuana and its legalization to his advantage by developing a lucrative business surrounding the plant and its benefits. But it's not only Mike that stands to benefit, as the ranch is designed to funnel money into further research and help educate others on how to grow quality plants. 

Al Harrington 

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) may have recently approved the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in the world of sports, but cannabis itself continues to remain on the list of banned substances. Former professional basketball player Al Harrington is working hard to change that.

Harrington enjoyed a successful career in the NBA for 16 years and was a first-round pick in the 1998 NBA draft. He played for numerous teams, including the Indiana Pacers, the Golden State Warriors, and the New York Knicks, to name a few.

He may be enjoying more success in the marijuana industry after building a billion-dollar cannabis business. During his days as a professional athlete, Harrington became aware of the medical benefits of cannabis after suffering from knee pain as a result of complications from surgery near the end of his basketball career. 

In addition to promoting cannabis as an effective treatment for pain, Harrington also became interested in the plant's potential to alleviate the symptoms of glaucoma and diabetes. His passion for cannabis' medical benefits prompted him to develop Viola Brands, named after his beloved grandmother who was affected by glaucoma and diabetes, and experienced immediate relief from using cannabis. The former NBA star is very involved in his cannabis company, which produces cannabis flowers, extracts, and vapes.

John Salley  

John Salley's career is quite colorful. After being awarded a prestigious basketball scholarship to Georgia Tech, he enjoyed a very successful career as a professional basketball player in the NBA, playing for such teams as the Chicago Bulls, the Detroit Pistons, and the Toronto Raptors, among others.

Salley is a four-time NBA champ and was the first basketball player in history to win the NBA title with three different franchises. He's also among the handful of professional athletes to successfully transition into acting, and even runs his own production company. 

These days, Salley is not only a vegan activist, but he also helps to run Deuces 22 with his daughter, Tyla. The company creates premium cannabis products, including vape pens and pre-rolls. The cannabis company - named after the player's jersey number 22 - strives to develop pure, clean cannabis products that people can include in their daily lives to enhance wellness. 

He's a firm believer that cannabis consumers shouldn't have to settle for subpar cannabis products simply because of cost. Instead, Deuces 22 is aimed at creating cannabis products that are thoroughly tested for purity and are of the highest possible quality. 

Read More: How Cannabis Can Make You a Better Distance Runner

There is a growing body of scientific findings to support cannabis in a positive impact on health and wellness.

Ricky Williams 

Born Errick Lynne Williams Jr., Ricky Williams is a former football running back who played in the NFL for 12 seasons and one in the CFL. Before his successful NFL career, Williams played for the University of Texas, where he won the coveted Heisman Trophy.

But being an excellent athlete isn't the only thing Williams was known for while in the NFL. He was also well-known for being a frequent consumer of marijuana, which cost him dearly in lost salary and potential endorsements.  

Ironically, however, Williams' affinity for cannabis would turn the tables for him and provide him with another profitable channel to make up for any monies lost back in the day. These days, the former NFLer runs Real Wellness, a company that creates cannabis-infused products available to the public.

In fact, treating his social anxiety disorder and depression with cannabis drove him to dive deeper into the plant's medicinal benefits to develop products that could also lead to helping countless others.

Real Wellness' products range in purpose - alleviating headaches, calming anxiety and stress, and reducing pain and inflammation. The company even has a line of sports-related cannabis products designed to treat pain and discomfort from bruises, sprains, and muscle tightness.

Turk McBride 

Turk McBride is a former NFL defensive end who started his football career playing at the University of Tennessee. He went on to play as a defensive end for 6 seasons in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs, The Detroit Lions, and The New Orleans Saints before calling it quits in 2013. 

McBride has since dabbled in the cannabis industry. He applied for his growing license in 2015 and eventually foundedGlobal Research Ventures, a California-based cannabis cultivation and distribution company. After suffering a few concussions over the years, the former NFL player touts his use of cannabis throughout his NFL career for helping him remain on the field as long as he did.

Over the years of getting to know more about cannabis' healing properties, McBride became much more familiar with the plant's potential ability to protect the brain and alleviate pain as an alternative to traditional medication. Today, McBride is an advocate for using cannabis to treat devastating conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

McBride now uses medical marijuana to help him deal with dizzy spells, mood swings, pain, and other issues that stemmed from his days as a pro football player. And with his newfound company, he's becoming part of the solution and is out to help others benefit from the plant's medical properties. 

Shaunie O'Neal 

While not necessarily an athlete herself, Shaunie O'Neal was married to one of the most famous professional athletes: Shaquille O'Neal. But not only has being married to a popular NBA basketball player propelled her into the limelight, so have her own personal ventures. 

Shaunie stars in Basketball Wives, a show that chronicles the lives of wives of famous basketball players. In addition to the drama that one would expect to see among the ladies on a reality TV show, the program also sheds some light into Shaunie's entrepreneurial side, which she has been testing out lately in the cannabis industry. 

She's joined the ranks of other celebrities who have either invested in cannabis companies or started one themselves. One episode of Basketball Wives shows Shaunie checking out a cannabis dispensary and considering cannabis as a lucrative investment that she can leave behind to her children. In another, Shaunie travels to Amsterdam along with the other ladies to get more inside information and experience with cannabis and its medicinal properties and health benefits.

A Place for Cannabis in Sports

There's plenty of anecdotal evidence showing how cannabis may be medically beneficial. There is also a growing body of scientific findings to support cannabis' positive impact on health and wellness. Professional athletes are starting to take notice and are exploring its benefits, in both their sporting careers and off-the-field business endeavours. 

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