If you’ve found yourself here by accident, be advised. Marijuana use is a controversial and often discussed topic in professional sports.
Last week Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr weighed in on the topic. Speaking on a CSN Bay Area podcast, Kerr revealed that he’s used marijuana to deal with back pain in the last two years.
"I guess maybe I could even get in some trouble for this, but I've actually tried [marijuana] twice during the last year and a half when I've been going through this pain, this chronic pain that I've been dealing with," Kerr told host Monte Poole.
"A lot of research, a lot of advice from people, and I have no idea if I would -- maybe I would have failed a drug test. I don't even know if I'm subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA, but I tried it, and it didn't help at all. But it was worth it, because I'm searching for answers on pain. But I've tried painkillers and drugs of other kinds, as well, and those have been worse. It's tricky."
While Kerr went on to say that he’s not a “pot person” and that the drug didn’t “agree” with him, he was clear that he thinks marijuana is a safer alternative than some other more frequently prescribed medications.
“I do know this: If you're an NFL player, in particular, and you got lot of pain, I don't think there's any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet, athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it's Vitamin C, like it's no big deal. And there's like this perception in our country that over-the-counter drugs are fine but pot is bad. Now, I think that's changing.”
There was plenty of reaction to Kerr’s comments. After the Phoenix Suns dropped a 138-109 decision to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night, Suns’ head coach Earl Watson weighed in, taking the opportunity to emphasize that Kerr’s statement shouldn’t be misconstrued.
"I think our rhetoric on it has to be very careful because you have a lot of kids where I'm from that's reading this, and they think [marijuana use is] cool. It's not cool. Where I'm from, you don't get six fouls to foul out. You get three strikes. One strike leads to another. I'm just being honest with you, so you have to be very careful with your rhetoric.”
Watson grew up surrounded by crime, death, incarceration and drug use in Kansas City, Kansas. He believes marijuana to be a gateway drug, and while not especially supportive of its use, does not condemn it. The Suns’ coach supports conversation on the controversial topic, but is mindful of the language used.
"I think it would have to come from a physician -- not a coach," Watson said. "And for me, I've lived in that other life [of crime and drugs]. I'm from that area, so I've seen a lot of guys go through that experience of using it and doing other things with that were both illegal. And a lot of those times, those guys never make it to the NBA, they never make it to college, and somehow it leads to something else, and they never make it past 18.
"So when we really talk about it and we open up that, I call it that slippery slope. We have to be very careful on the rhetoric and how we speak on it and how we express it and explain it to the youth."
Watson seemed to be speaking directly to the youth of his hometown, and was very clear that he thinks any opportunity could be wasted in a community where the likelihood for success can be very minimal to begin with.
"For the kids who are reading this and they might take the headlines and run with it, don't run anywhere with it. Understand that if you're from an environment or social area where a lot of luck and a lot of blessings is your only way out, you cannot risk that opportunity ever. Ever. It's just the way it is. It's not the same everywhere. I don't know as far as the pain [and how marijuana could help], but I think we have to be careful how we present that to the public."