One Less Rule

Luke RobinsonWhy the NCAA should remove its marijuana ban.

By Luke Robinson


Last summer, I had a work expo to attend in Denver. Cool enough. I love Denver. My girlfriend went with me. We went to Red Rock for a concert. We visited the Coors Brewery and toured the stadium of the Colorado Rockies. Lots of interesting, Denver-y stuff like that. But none of those events held a candle to what happened later. Or perhaps I should say, “None of those events held a roach clip,” because what we got to see was a glimpse of legal marijuana use. And you know what? It wasn’t that big of a deal.

Before I go on, you should know that I have never smoked a doobie in my life (do people still call them “doobies” or is that term reserved for old Starsky and Hutches)? (Writer’s note: As I am typing this article, I have been informed that “joint” is certainly preferred, but “doobie” works, too. I think “doobie” is funnier, so it’ll get more run in this piece.)

Seriously though: I have never touched the stuff. The opportunities have been plentiful and an argument could be made that my hyperactivity could use some mellowing, but the urge to smoke weed has never struck me. I don’t know why I never puffed. Maybe I was the only kid in the USA who heeded the Nancy Reagan-led “Just Say No” program, or maybe I was too busy not being popular. Whatever the reason, Mary Jane never called my name. In fact, I was pretty much anti-drug altogether. I wouldn’t slap a doobie from a friend’s hand, but most had the courtesy to not smoke in front of me just in case.

Thus, it’s pretty to easy to see where I fell on the “should recreational marijuana be legal?” argument, right? In case you can’t figure it out, I was a’gin it! But that trip to Denver showed me something. Actually, a friend in Denver showed me something. He showed me his lockbox full of minced leaves, soon to be smoked into oblivion.

At first, I felt weird just being in the room with it. But then he showed me the paperwork and licenses and bar codes and all the other stuff that reminded me: ganja is recreationally legal here! He can light that mutha in the privacy of his home all he wants!

Immediately, my football recruiting-obsessed mind asked, “How in the world will the other teams in the PAC-12 keep up with Colorado’s recruiting efforts if the Buffaloes can tout legal recreational marijuana as a selling point?”

Of course, the drug continues to be illegal on a federal level and is still on the NCAA’s banned substance list. But if I were pitching the University of Colorado (or University of Washington, where weed is also legal now) to a prospective student athlete, you can bet your bong water I am going to at least casually mention that doobies are  “just alright” in my state. If you are a high school prospect and you happen to smoke (and let’s not pretend a lot don’t), wouldn’t that selling technique at least make you look at those schools a little harder?

Further, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll recently where 75 percent of the respondents admitted that the legalization of marijuana is inevitable. It’s going to happen nationwide—It’s just a matter of when. My point is this: Shouldn’t the NCAA just go ahead and remove marijuana from the group of banned substances and get out of the way of this thing? Mary Jane isn’t steroids. Lord knows it doesn’t make a player better! If anything, Auburn’s opponents may just want to put a jar of hash and some rolling paper in the Tigers’ locker room to slow that offense down.

Allow individual schools or states to dictate their own punishments (or lack thereof). The NCAA screws up enough of their own rules as it is; why not remove one from the War and Peace-sized rulebook?

I realize that only Sir Mix a Lot becoming an honest proctologist would be more ironic than a guy who has never tried marijuana asking the NCAA to quit banning it. I am just tired of everyone pretending to be so horrified when a redshirt sophomore running back is arrested on some minor dope charge. Maybe it’s time we all admit: It’s not that big of a deal, nor does it mean said “offender” is destined for lifelong criminal activity.

I am not trying to be political here. I don’t really care if it is truly legal; I just don’t want the NCAA to have an opportunity to punish for smoking it. They botch enough already.

So come on, NCAA: Let’s (puff, puff) give the marijuana ban the boot.

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