Jay Williams — the second overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft and a basketball analyst for ESPN — thinks it’s time for the sports word to loosen up about marijuana.
Williams estimated three-quarters of NBA players use pot, said its medical benefits are glossed over in sports and argued that cannabis has been unfairly “demonized” in an interview published Wednesday.
“It’s easy for doctors to prescribe you Oxycontin and, look, I was addicted to it for five-plus years so I know,” Williams told FOXBusiness.com. “But when you say marijuana you get a reaction: ‘Ahhh, it’s a gateway drug.’”
Williams’ NBA career ended after his rookie year following a brutal motorcycle crash. He’s previously said it’s during the recovery from that accident that he became over-reliant on painkillers. The NBA bans marijuana use under any circumstances, even though two teams are located in states where it’s recreationally legal and 23 states allow medical use.
Williams said he knows of some athletes who compete while on painkillers.
“I know so many athletes that play on Percocet. Have you ever taken Percocet by the way? It makes you way more groggy than rubbing cannabis oil into your skin,” Williams said. “It’s demonized in society, too. ‘Oh, he’s a pot head.’ No, I actually just use cannabis oil because it helps with inflammation and takes away some anxiety.”
Williams added he believes the sports world and society at large get over old attitudes toward the drug.
“You see pictures of guys in California going in and getting their medical marijuana cards,” he said. “And I’m not just saying athletes, let’s talk about society. I know a lot of people that use it. It’s something that the whole world is becoming more progressive with. So it’s about time some of these entities do as well.”