Aug 25,2014(ISN) Who will be the first professional athlete to test the waters in Colorado or Washington state? Will it be a safety for the Seattle Seahawks in Boulder who says “Sorry bro, that’s my girlfriend’s weed” when he’s pulled over for speeding? Or will it be a Denver Bronco wide receiver vacationing in Tacoma who tells a State Trooper that the bong in the console of his Cadillac belongs his mother, who’s undergoing chemotherapy for cancer?

A dozen NFL players have already been caught herb-handed in the last 18 months, a statistic that indicates there’s probably many more players who have dodged a charge for something that is no longer an issue in Washington State and Colorado. How long before the National Football League is forced to rethink its drug policy in the wake of lawsuits launched by former players that contend marijuana is a huge help in dealing with the pain and effects of concussions? When you consider that the NFL was recently hammered in the courts to the tune of billions of dollars by ex-players suffering long-term effects from the collisions that are an integral part of the game, the league may be forced to rethink its stance against pot based on dollars and, hopefully, common sense.
Every day, millions of adults in Canada and south of the border break the law by consuming cannabis, mostly in the sanctity of their own homes. Priests, politicians, police officers, posties, planners, plumbers and a plethora of other professions see no harm in lighting one up, whether seeking relief from medical afflictions or purely for pleasure. Many of these so-called criminals continue to commit this crime daily, weekly or monthly because it has been part of their lifestyle for 40, 50 or 60 years or more.

I know some of these lawbreakers personally, good friends who have carved out fulfilling careers or run successful businesses and raised children the planet can be proud of, without ever coming within a whiff of breaking any other law.
Some may argue it’s no longer an issue because law enforcement and the courts in many jurisdictions already nod, wink or look the other way when dealing with simple possession, but that’s little solace for those in my shoes. I can travel to any country in the world with my pardon and my passport, but can’t fulfil a lifelong dream of watching the Montreal Canadiens play the Bruins in Boston because of a 34-year-old possession charge.
While I may be considered collateral damage in the war on drugs, I suffered only a scratch compared to Eddie. I didn’t know Eddie very well, other than we passed each other in the halls of our high school from time to time. He seemed like a quiet kid, a gentle, whiskerless soul with long blond hair who by all accounts lived to play his guitar.

That love of music cost him dearly, however when he made the mistake of wandering off to an outdoor concert at a park in Montreal with a couple of joints in his pocket. Eddie got busted and the judge gave him the flavour of the month sentence in 1968, four to seven years in a hole from hell called St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary. A French Canadian con I interviewed one time who did a stretch there for a double murder conviction said the nickname for that particular institution translated roughly into “Brain Eater” in English. Eddie, a couple of years short of 20 at the time, lost all of his teeth on the first day of his incarceration. A con with a predilection for blondes slammed Eddie’s face into the water fountain after he made the rookie mistake of stooping to take a drink without checking to see who was behind him. That, and more, for less than a couple of grams.

So whether it’s 50 years too late or not, we owe it to Eddie and everyone else who’s already paid the price to quit pussyfooting around with this prolonged prohibition on pot. We need to man up to the fact that the only winner in this futile war on weed is organized crime. It’s the mob, biker gangs and lawyers who reap the profits from a misguided morality play that brands millions of people as criminals for the crime of taking a couple of tokes. Maybe it will be an NFL commissioner or the head of some major sports league that finally comes to its senses and declares that marijuana can no longer considered a performance enhancing drug, ironically after sampling some BC bud. Maybe the powers that be will finally recognize that the medicinal qualities associated with marijuana are cost effective and beneficial for players living in the dark abyss caused by prolonged concussions.

Personally, I hope it’s a left fielder from the Rockies or a left winger on the Avalanche who takes those first few strides and wades into the fray in a courtroom forcefully enough to bring about monumental change for people like Eddie and me and you.