Florida's Familiar With the Wicked Weed, But It Didn't Stop the Gators From Winning

As a Florida fan, I've been frustrated with Wondy Pierre-Louis for the better part of four years. He rarely contributed on the field beyond some stellar special teams work, figured heavily into the secondary's more flammable configurations, and got arrested for what seemed like an ugly domestic incident, but turned into two misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief. 

But I'm happy that he told the Orlando Sentinel's Jeremy Fowler what he did about marijuana use by the Gators: it's going to spur some discussion about why society feels the way it does about weed.

⇥⇥Pierre-Louis estimates about 75 percent of the 2006 team smoked marijuana based on internal talk among players and teammates posting positive tests. Pierre-Louis refused to estimate the current percentage since he says Meyer has significantly reduced the drug use on the team.⇥⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥“I know a lot of players who didn’t smoke because they wanted to stay on the team,” Pierre-Louis said. “I think every year the percentage is going down. Coach Meyer knows what he’s doing. People still do it anyway, but maybe more people are doing it undercover.”⇥⇥⇥⇥

It's not surprising that Meyer's cut down (well, sort of) on use of the wacky tobacky -- it is still illegal to possess marijuana in Florida -- but it's also not surprising that a former player estimates 75 percent of a college football team smoked, or that this is the team in question. College football players have the money or status to acquire weed, and are almost assuredly in proximity to it merely by being on a college campus. There's no question that some of them feel bulletproof enough to use it without fearing the consequences, too, and that 2006 team was full of seniors recruited by Ron Zook, who wasn't nearly the disciplinarian Meyer is.

But that 2006 team also won a national championship. And if that can be done with three-quarters of a team blazing (Marcus Thomas got kicked off that team for marijuana-related offenses), then maybe, just maybe, casual and careful marijuana use doesn't have the deleterious effects some assume.

I've never smoked, but I've got no animus towards people who do, and most of the folks I know don't stigmatize marijuana use either. Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi also notes that there's a massive double standard for marijuana and alcohol abuse. And when that gaudy 75 percent figure percolates up to the national media, you can bet we're going to get a whiff of both that double standard and the growing acceptance of marijuana use as a typically harmless pastime.

Marijuana possession and use is still illegal in almost every circumstance that doesn't involve a prescription, but more and more, Americans are leaning towards legalization. And if you believe Wondy Pierre-Louis, widespread marijuana use didn't stop Florida from winning a national championship. Will that fact help make some old assumptions about marijuana go up in smoke?


This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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