Mike James, 1st NFL player to ask for permit over cannabis, speaks up again

The 27-year-old free agent Mike James made history when he became the first NFL player ever to ask for a permit to use medical cannabis.

The NFL rejected his application for the therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for medical cannabis in May.

But James is not keeping quiet.

“Submitting the TUE was a huge risk. I may have sacrificed my career to do it,” he recently told BBC Sport.

“But for me there was no running from it anymore. I’m in a position to be able to do something myself, to give me back my life, and help the players in the league.”

Cannabis use is “widespread” in the NFL, Former NFL champion Matt Barnes told BBC Sport on Thursday.

James became addicted to painkillers following a surgery for a broken ankle.

“At first I was taking the recommended dose but then I ramped it up when I found ways to get extra pills,” he said.

A study by Washington University found in 2011 that 52 per cent of retired NFL players used painkillers during their careers, and more than 70 per cent of those players abused those drugs.