NFL running back Mike James calls it his medicine for pain management, but league officials call it a banned substance. Now, James’ athletic career is hanging in limbo because he chose pot over pills.
In 2013, James was prescribed opioid painkillers after injuring his left ankle in a Monday night football game. Within weeks, he developed a dangerous dependency on the drugs.
To get off of the opioids, he turned to medical marijuana for his pain.
Suddenly, “my pain subsided,” James told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an exclusive interview in the documentary “Weed 4: Pot vs. Pills,” which aired Sunday night.
“I never had something where I could be coherent and still have pain relief,” he said.
As it stands, the NFL and NFL Players Association prohibit active players from using marijuana as part of the league’s policy on substance abuse.
The only way around the policy is if a player has what’s called a therapeutic use exemption indicating that the athlete requires the substance to treat a diagnosed medical problem.
James made history last month as the first player to file for a therapeutic use exemption specifically for cannabis. On Thursday, he received a letter from the NFL, denying his exemption application. He vowed not to give up.
“My career is at great risk,” said James, who is a free agent after