Former Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is no stranger to marijuana controversy. In 2004 he retired from football (for the first time) after finding out he’d be suspended for marijuana use. In 2011 he retired for good, allowing him to play a little more fast and loose with his opinions and activism regarding pot. Williams has actually teamed up with snowboard company executive Jim McAlpine to start Power Plant Fitness, a San Francisco-based 420-friendly gym that encourages the use of marijuana before or after working out.
“The thing with marijuana I find interesting is it’s so new, people don’t want to talk about it,” Williams said in an interview with thepostgame.com. “It’s not really a marijuana gym. It’s more of a holistic wellness center, where people can come and if they do happen to use cannabis, which is now medically and recreationally legal in California, they’re not going to be shunned or pushed away. They’ll be supported in the lifestyle they like.”
Between Power Plant Fitness and his past troubles with marijuana and the NFL, it’s no surprise that Williams has a few opinions on the league’s stance. Marijuana is still a banned substance in the NFL with no medical exceptions, despite painkiller use soaring and addiction at an all-time high.
“I think about it a lot,” Williams said about the NFL’s marijuana ban. “And my big thing is now that we know, it’s not as bad as we’ve been told, I think it’s ridiculous that people are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars and reputations are ruined when it’s not necessary anymore. I think the NFL, the way they treat cannabis use is punitive and I don’t think it’s fair, especially considering what they ask football players to do on a daily basis. Football players, I guarantee they’re in pain 100 percent of the time during the football season and a lot of the offseason too. I think the NFL, it’s their responsibility to find healthy alternatives for people to take care of them.”
Williams was suspended for four games in 2004 after testing positive for THC, causing him to take an early retirement after the league’s substance abuse program made him feel like a criminal. “If you look at my public record, I was a model teammate, I did a lot of work in the community, I was good for the NFL.”
As for Jim McAlpine, he says he mainly uses marijuana while working out. “I personally use it for focus. It’s not about getting high. It’s about keeping my mind engaged in the activity I’m in.” McAlpine is also an organizer of the 420 games, an athletic event that works to end the stigma against marijuana use. “I found when I was playing football that using cannabis helped me relax physically, relax mentally and even spiritually.”While there has not been thorough research done to measure the effects of marijuana use on exercise, both Williams and McAlpine vouch for its ability to enhance their workouts. With the right marketing, Power Plant Gym may have the ability to help destigmatize marijuana use while allowing members to workout at a higher level than ever before.