Democracy Dies in Darkness

Early Lead

A former Jets player is suing Jeff Sessions to legalize marijuana

By Matt Bonesteel

July 25, 2017 at 9:36 AM

Jeff Sessions, under fire from all sides. (Matt Rourke, Associated Press file photo)

Former NFL player Marvin Washington is one of five plaintiffs who are suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration in federal court to legalize marijuana, the New York Post reported Monday night.

Washington, a defensive lineman known mostly for his time with the New York Jets over his 11-year NFL career, is the co-founder of a company that sells hemp-based sports performance products that do not contain THC, the component of cannabis that causes a high in marijuana users. In the lawsuit, he claims that the federal government's classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug — in other words, a substance that has a high potential for abuse and one that has no accepted medical use — prevents him from receiving federal grants to open a business that "would allow pro football players to use medical marijuana for pain management in lieu of more addictive opioids," the Post reports.

NFL players "are fed opiates and pharmaceuticals throughout the week, from training camp until the end of season. That can be June to January. It's not normal," Washington told the New York Daily News in June. "I think the Players Association should demand that [players] have an alternative to opiates. This is scientific-based. This is not hocus pocus. That's where I want to see this in the very near future, players that have an alternative to opiates."

As delineated by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA), substances such as marijuana, heroin and LSD are considered Schedule I drugs but drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine are considered less dangerous Schedule II drugs because, while also addictive and subject to abuse, they have accepted medical uses in the eyes of the federal government.

"The record makes clear that the CSA doesn't make any rational sense and the federal government knows it," attorney Michael Hiller, who represents Washington and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told the New York Post.

Joining Washington as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Alexis Bortell, an 11-year-old girl who needs medical marijuana to treat her epilepsy, and Jose Belen, a disabled military veteran who uses marijuana to treat his post traumatic stress syndrome.

More on the NFL:

Police clear Lucky Whitehead after false accusation and arrest warrant

The latest brain study examined 111 former NFL players. Only one didn't have CTE.

Robert Griffin III set to work out for Chargers


After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and The Post's other Web-based products.

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