Eugene Monroe has been an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens since 2013, and he was also the first active NFL player to publicly support letting athletes use medical marijuana.

Monroe caused much controversy when he voiced support for medical marijuana in March, and the head coach for the Ravens expressed that he did not agree with this statement. Monroe argued that consuming marijuana can help treat ailments common to NFL players, like pain and inflammation. The NFL does not allow players to use medical marijuana. Many retired players have also voiced support for medical marijuana.

Is he retiring because of his stance on medical marijuana? Not entirely, but it seems likely that played a role in his decision. Monroe wrote an article for The Players Tribune about his retirement.

The game of football has helped me to know what it takes to set objectives, to know how to work tirelessly to achieve them and to push through any obstacle no matter how insurmountable it may seem. For all my anxiety, I’m actually excited for what the future holds because I feel prepared for it. Even though my football career is over, I plan to continue to be a vocal advocate for medical marijuana research, particularly as it relates to CTE. More steps need to be taken to curb the overuse of opioids in NFL locker rooms, and I won’t rest until something is done.

Monroe told the New York Times that he’s seen NFL players abuse addictive opioids just to be able to keep playing, and he doesn’t want to do that to himself. He said he would rather quit while he’s still relatively healthy and able. Had he been able to use medical marijuana, one might assume he could have kept playing longer.

Monroe has already been injured many times while playing football, and he may have longterm physical problems to deal with despite the fact he’s retiring at a relatively young age. Monroe is currently 29 years old.

On his website, Monroe writes extensively on his campaign to make the NFL let players use medical marijuana. He also writes about the “opioid epidemic” occurring within the NFL.

In 2014, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL would consider allowing medical marijuana if it was found to help treat concussions. However, he has recently said the policy will not be changing any time soon. A study from earlier this year found 40 percent of former NFL players have brain injuries. But yeah, it’s the marijuana we should be afraid of.

[Photo by Automotive Rhythms/Flickr]

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