In this 2003 file photo, Missouri's Josh Kroenke, right, smacks Colorado's David Harrison in the head as they battle for a rebound. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Meyer: “I hope sports leagues continue to punish those who use marijuana” (column)

By John Meyer, The Denver Post

I am getting so tired of reading about how wonderful Colorado’s legalization of marijuana is, and how unfortunate it is that the “stigma” associated with pot use will remain. What is happening in Colorado is nothing to celebrate, unless you’re a pothead. And it’s not funny, although a lot of people seem to think it is.

For some of us, it’s very sad. As my brother in Florida commented when I made this point recently on Facebook, “Colorado, you’ve let the monkeys take over the zoo.”

I was appalled to read a column in The Denver Post that argued we should have no problem with athletes who use marijuana. Apparently we should have no problem with athletes promoting the use of marijuana among our kids, because when they defend pot use, that’s exactly what they are doing.

That column gave former CU basketball player David Harrison a forum to defend marijuana and criticize sports leagues for sanctioning “me and other athletes caught using drugs.” That’s so wrong.

Who cares if athletes smoke pot? Actually a lot of people are pretty upset about this.

I keep reading that marijuana is no worse than alcohol. The position of the American Medical Association is that “cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern,” and that “sale and possession of cannabis should not be legalized.”

Let me emphasize one word there: The AMA says cannabis is a dangerous drug. But there’s David Harrison defending it. Hey, kids, pay no attention to all those mental-health professionals who worry what will happen to you if you go down that road.

As another Facebook friend commented: “The whole thing breaks my heart and makes me wonder what kind of a place my kids will grow up in.”

Apparently they will grow up in a state where athlete role models proclaim there’s nothing wrong with marijuana, a state where parents are going to be hard-pressed to tell kids otherwise because voters in this state made it legal.

I hope sports leagues continue to test for marijuana and punish those who use it, even in states where it is legal. Athlete role models ought to be promoting health and fitness, especially now when obesity is at epidemic proportions. They ought to be telling kids that smoking — cigarettes or cannabis — is unhealthy. Instead of telling kids marijuana makes people feel “awesome,” we should be helping kids understand how awesome they can feel by running, biking, skiing, swimming or pursuing all sorts of other healthy pursuits.

We ought to be telling kids to pay no attention to those misguided athletes and their media accomplices who defend and promote the use of marijuana, which I regard as a tragedy. We ought to work hard to make sure the “stigma” of marijuana use remains.

And if you need marijuana to feel “awesome,” maybe you need to have a chat with one of those mental-health professionals.