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Relax, Jerry Jones. Calm Down, NFL. Ezekiel Elliott’s Cannabis Visit Was Perfectly Normal.

August 26, 2016

Dear Jerry Jones, and the rest of America up in arms today with the news of Ezekiel Elliott’s dispensary visit Thursday night before the Cowboys preseason game here in Seattle:

As one Aaron Rodgers would put it


What Zeke Elliott did was perfectly legal. As a curious 21 year old who grew up in Missouri before playing college ball at the Ohio State, the Cowboys running back taking a gander at what a legal, adult-use shop looks like is perfectly fine. And, I would even argue, completely normal.

Yes, the Dallas Cowboys have three players who are currently suspended on drug-related offenses. And yes, the NFL still lists cannabis as one of its banned substances — despite outcry from the athletes themselves suffering debilitating injuries. Under these circumstances, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s comments aren’t a complete surprise.

“It’s just not good,” Jones said. “That’s a part of just really getting the big picture here.”

But Elliott merely walked into a legal, licensed cannabis shop. He’s 21. Sources tell TMZ that “they did NOT see Elliot make any sort of purchase.” All he did was look around. It’s a common thing for tourists to be curious what legal cannabis looks like. “Elliott didn’t seem like he was hiding or embarrassed to be there,” TMZ reported.

And he shouldn’t be.

Herban Legends is a longtime member of Seattle’s legal cannabis community. It began as a medical dispensary in 2011 and moved to Seattle’s central Belltown neighborhood in April, opening to all adults 21 and older. It’s one of the closest shops to Downtown, not far from Pike Place Market, and as such is a common stop for tourists.

On ESPN’s Mike and Mike radio show Friday morning, co-host Mike Greenberg was joined by former NFLer Booger McFarland and ESPN contributor Ed Werder. One of the topics they covered was the Elliott story, and Greenberg brought up an excellent point.

Greenberg shared how he and his family frequent Colorado for vacations, and he acknowledged there was something compelling about the cannabis dispensaries during his first few visits after the state legalized.

“The first couple of times you see the shops there — because it is still relatively new as far as being legal — it is still a little jarring, and there is, at a minimum, a bit of curiosity,” he said.

I know what he means. As a 23 year old from Nebraska, where cannabis is decriminalized but far from legal, I was quite curious myself when I moved to Seattle and saw my first few adult-use shops. But while a trip to a dispensary might be no big thing here, Werder said on the radio show that the visit could put Elliott in hot water with the NFL.

“I would assume that they recognize Jerry has reacted in the right way, and so perhaps they will think it will be handled internally with the team,” Werder said. “It is certainly possible the league would suggest something be done and a message be sent to Zeke Elliott.”

Asked if the league would — or should — stop testing players for cannabis use anytime soon, Werder touched on the current state of the NFL.

Today’s owners are a bunch of older, generally quite conservative men — not the strongest supporters of legalization, demographically speaking — so the likelihood of them deciding to turn a blind eye to cannabis is unlikely.

Yet for all the judgment the league and its coaches hold against cannabis, it’s surprisingly not that hard for players to get away with consuming. As former NFL punter Chris Kluwe told Leafly, the NFL’s cannabis testing protocols are easy to dodge. Of course, it’s even easier for players to get opioids, which kill thousands every year. The league hands those out like candy.

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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