ATLANTA — More and more professional athletes are getting high on marijuana to help them play better and recover.
Channel 2′s sports director Zach Klein first reported on the trend in February. Now changing attitudes are trickling down to the college level, with the NCAA relaxing its rules on pot.
Professional athletes are opening up about their marijuana use to help with everything from pain relief to anxiety.
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“I would probably say around 80% of guys in our league use cannabis,” said Tavarres King, who played wide receiver in the NFL for seven years.
“You mentioned 80% of your teammates or guys that you know in the league were using marijuana. Were you one of them?” asked Klein.
“100%,” King answered.
He first went on record about his cannabis use with Klein in February.
The former Georgia Bulldog said he didn’t use marijuana in college.
“What’s your knowledge telling you about college athletes smoking and participating in marijuana?” Klein asked.
“For college athletes, I think it’s a little bit different because they’re still trying to get to that ultimate goal. You don’t want to have a mishap where you’re getting tested by the NCAA and they’re, you know, putting their finger on and saying you’re suspended,” King said.
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But since that interview, the NCAA announced it is relaxing the amount of THC an athlete can have to trigger a positive test, from 35 to 150 nanograms per milliliter.
Both the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech declined Klein’s requests for on-camera interviews on the change.
When it comes to drug testing, Josiah Hesse, who wrote a book about athletes using cannabis, said there are ways around it.
“Sometimes people are informed beforehand, so it’s not such a surprise. Sometimes people get someone else’s urine,” Hesse said.
Pot is not considered a performance-enhancing substance. But King said it helped him focus on the field.
“I was laser-sharp, laser-focused on the task at hand,” King said.
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The NCAA is also recommending lighter penalties for athletes who test positive for marijuana.
Right now, one positive test for pot forces an athlete to miss half of a regular season. Under the new proposal, an athlete will have to follow a school’s management plan and education.
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