NFL’s Mike James Makes History, Tells Sanjay Gupta How Marijuana Eased His Pain

“My pain subsided,” NFL running back Mike James told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta after the athlete chose marijuana as an alternative to opioid-based drugs.

Gupta last week tweeted a public letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urging him to legalize medical marijuana to fight what is currently described as the opioid crisis. On his Twitter account, Sanjay also announced his documentary “Weed 4: Pot vs. Pills,” which aired Sunday night.

In an exclusive interview, James, who appeared in the documentary, told Sanjay that he was prescribed opioid painkillers in 2013 after injuring his left ankle in a Monday night football game.

Like many others, James within weeks became dependant on the drugs.

But after using marijuana to medicate his pain, he said:

“I never had something where I could be coherent and still have pain relief.”

James choosing the green herb as a better natural option was not an easy decision as the NFL Players Association prohibits its active players from using cannabis.

James with his children.

James Makes History

But James made history last month when he became the first player to file for a therapeutic use exemption for marijuana.

Unfortunately, James received on Thursday a letter from the NFL, denying his exemption application.

But he is not giving up despite the risks.

“My career is at great risk,” said James, who is a free agent after being released by the Detroit Lions.

The journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence published a study in 2011, revealing that more than 52 percent of former NFL players reported using opioids during their career, and 71 percent of those players reported misusing opioids.

James thought he would never develop an opioid addiction, “because I was getting them from a doctor,” he said.

But soon after James joined the about 2.5 million Americans who struggle with opioid use disorder.