SAN DIEGO - Now that former Charger Shaun Phillips is no longer playing in the NFL, he’s not holding back on his love for marijuana.
“I’m one of those people that uses it for recreational and medicinal. If it’s used the way it’s supposed to be used, everyone can benefit,” Phillips told FOX 5.
Phillips is among a growing number of current and ex NFL players who want the league to take marijuana off its list of banned substances. He said medicinal marijuana is better at controlling pain than prescription drugs.
"Guys should have the freedom. There are opiates prescribed to us,” Phillips said. “Personally if I had to choose between Ambien, OxyContin, Percocet or marijuana, I gotta go with marijuana.”
Phillips admitted to smoking pot when he was with the San Diego Chargers.
“Yes, my entire career I smoked,” he said.
Ex-NFLer Eben Britton came out in September admitting he played stoned while he was in the league. Phillips told FOX 5 he had never played high.
“I was too scared, but knowing what I know now, I would have,” he said.
Despite his support for medical marijuana, Phillips admits it wasn’t medicinal grade pot that he was smoking in his NFL days.
“I was smoking good old fashioned weed. I would have a guy come to the house. Text messaging code. It was unbelievable,” he said.
The NFL tests for banned substances; however, Phillips never got caught for smoking marijuana.
“With pot we have one drug test, and it’s in the summer. So when guys fail marijuana tests, it’s usually their fault," Phillips said.
As it stands now, the NFL has one of the strictest marijuana policies in professional sports. Around the country 28 states have legalized medical marijuana, but even in those states, the NFL doesn’t allow it. At Super Bowl LI, League Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL will not consider a change to its pot prohibition any time soon.
“First and foremost I don’t think Roger Goodell is intentionally saying no. He has to think of the greater good of the NFL,” said Phillips. “It’s kind of weird. We promote alcohol or cigarettes, but can’t use marijuana which is proven to help you? It’s kind of one of those things you gotta tell Roger to at least take a look at it.”
Former Chargers Nick Hardwick and Antoine Cason support the NFL marijuana rules. Both said taking cannabis off the list of banned substances would a slippery slope for the league.
While the NFL may not be researching medical marijuana, the players union is. According to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, the NFL Players Association is actively studying the use of medical marijuana as opposed to opioids as a pain management issue and is in the process of putting together a committee to study it. The union is also close to recommending lesser penalties for those who test positive for pot in the NFL.