Former college football star Randy Gregory is considered one of the top defensive players available in this year's National Football League draft, but he might have an Achilles' heel.
Gregory tested positive for marijuana at the NFL's annual scouting combine in February, he told NFL Media on Wednesday. Considering the league's strict marijuana policy regarding illegal drugs, his stock could fall in the draft, set to begin on April 30.
"Am I worried? Yeah, I'm worried," he told NFL Media. "At the same time, I'm confident. I know I'm going to be all right in the end."
Marijuana use is a longtime stumbling block for NFL players. While usage statistics aren't available, anecdotal accounts say the drug is widespread.
That shouldn't be too surprising. Medical marijuana is used for pain relief and has far less chance of fatal overdose than prescription opioids, such as OxyContin.
Nate Jackson, a former tight end for the Denver Broncos, believes the league should remove weed from its list of banned substances. Speaking at a marijuana conference earlier this month, he said many NFL players have been smoking pot since they were young.
"The fact that they've been doing it that whole time and still made it to the NFL and are able to satisfy the demands of very, very strict employers on a daily basis means that their marijuana use is in check," he said.
Gregory, who was known to have used marijuana while playing college football at Nebraska, said he began using the drug after high school to cope with anxiety related to collegiate academics.
The Taft family is well-known in Ohio, with a former Ohio senator and governor in their bloodline (not to mention a certain walrus-mustache-wearing president).
Two Taft brothers, Woody and Dudley (a private equity investor and musician, respectively) have invested in a property that could become one of 10 marijuana farms in the state, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Before that can happen, the campaign to legalize weed will need to collect more than 300,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot in November. Then Ohio residents will need to vote it into law.
The Tafts aren't the only Ohio celebs interested in cannabis. Former basketball star Oscar Robertson and pro football player Frostee Rucker have also sunk funds into the campaign.
Since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in late 2012, charges for marijuana possession, distribution and cultivation have dropped by 95 percent, from from 38,878 in 2010 to 2,036 last year, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Drug Policy Alliance.
But even with greatly reduced enforcement, one trend remains the same: blacks are still far more likely than whites to be charged with a marijuana crime. The marijuana arrest rate for blacks in Colorado was 2.4 times that of whites — the same rate as in 2010, according to the report.
The figures may raise concerns about unfair police practices and racial profiling. However, Tom Gorman, a top drug law enforcement official in Colorado, doesn't believe that's the case.
“Racial disparities exist in other laws," he told The Guardian. "What does that mean, that homicide law, rape laws, weapon laws are racist? There are other factors going on here that we need to address."
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.