Darryl Strawberry touts marijuana as dangerous alternative to opiates for pain management
By: Jason Owens
Darryl Strawberry’s is a sad story, a brilliant baseball career and life dampened by a crippling drug addiction.
So when he speaks on drug issues, people listen.
The 1983 National League Rookie of the Year got caught by a TMZ camera on Wednesday and had some controversial takes when asked about marijuana and opioid use among athletes.
Strawberry: Pot not a safe alternative for pain management
When asked his thoughts on calls for the NFL to approve marijuana for pain management as an alternative to highly addictive opioids, Strawberry was not in support.
He used the time-tested method of demonizing marijuana, classifying it as a gateway drug that will surely lead to hard drug use.
“Most people don’t understand marijuana is a drug,” Strawberry said. “It’s just the marijuana maintenance. It’s the beginning. Starting people off when they’re young, and then it leads to everything else.”
Strawberry acknowledges opioid crisis
Strawberry showed an understanding of the real crisis of prescription opioids, which are estimated to claim the lives of 115 Americans every day.
“The system is broken, and the pharmaceutical company has flooded the gates with the opiates, which are killing all our young people today,” Strawberry said.
But he declined to consider marijuana as a safer alternative for NFL players who are constantly in pain, citing his own experience with pot as the inevitable path for everyone else who encounters it.
“Most young people start off with marijuana. It’s a gateway,” he added. “I started with marijuana when I was young — 14, 15 years old — and it led me to everything else.”
The problem with Strawberry’s belief
It’s a troubling take, but an understandable one from someone who has first-hand experience with the ravages of addiction. Strawberry was suspended for cocaine three times during his MLB career. Instead of following through on what looked like the start of a Hall-of-Fame career, he struggled to stay on the field and produce after eight consecutive All-Star campaigns following his rookie season.
Strawberry has leaned on religion in his battle with addiction and has spent time as a minister warning people about the dangers of drugs.
Strawberry coming from a good place
It’s an admirable path and service to attempt to help people who deal with the very real mental struggle of addiction. But his is a flawed message that relies solely on his personal experience rather than the realities of addiction and drug use. And it does nothing to address the truly dangerous opioid crisis.
For people who have addictive tendencies, marijuana can be a dangerous drug. It’s true. Most people who graduate to harder drugs have likely tried marijuana first.
But correlation, of course, does not equate to causation, as plenty of people are able to use marijuana responsibly without it leading to harder drugs. Classifying marijuana in the same vein as illicit, more dangerous drugs has contributed to the mass incarceration problem that plagues the United States and been used to falsely promote alcohol and prescription opiates as safer alternatives.
While Strawberry’s goal of educating people vulnerable to the pitfalls of addiction is commendable, it can have negative consequences if he doesn’t have his facts straight.