Opinion: MMA, Marijuana, and the Need for Everyone to Smarten Up
By Jesse Heitz
Pat Healy, fresh off of his thumping of Jim Miller at UFC 159, has been suspended for testing positive for Marijuana. According to reports, Healy apparently failed his post-fight drug screening. Healy is far from being alone. In the last year or so, the UFC in particular, has seen its fair share of marijuana related suspensions
Healy’s transgressions are sure to cost him a pretty penny. For his brilliant win at UFC 159, Healy pocketed a cool $152,500 for under three rounds of work against Jim Miller. The problem is that only $17,500 was guaranteed. The other $135,000 was wrapped up in win, fight of the night, and submission of the night bonuses. With the New Jersey Athletic Control Board handing Healy not only a 90-day suspension, but overturned his win, ruling it a no-contest. Poof, and just like that, $135,000 is rescinded all because a professional fighter had smoked some marijuana, “socially” of course, leading up to his fight with Miller
Healy posted an official statement, which can be found here at Full Contact Fighter, that reads as follows,
“I would like to start off by apologizing to the UFC, Jim Miller, the MMA community, its fans, my family, teammates and coaches for my positive testing for marijuana after my UFC 159 fight with Jim Miller. I was fully aware of the UFC and State Commissions drug policies and made poor life choices. I stand behind the UFC and State Commission’s disciplinary actions. I support efforts to make MMA and sports a clean, safe and fair place to compete.
“First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge and take responsibility for my mistake. I made a very poor choice to socially use marijuana and now I must face the consequences of that choice. I can assure you that I will do everything the UFC and State Commission asks of me and beyond. I will also make a conscious effort to be a better role model within the MMA community.”
In the last year or so, we’ve seen a number of UFC fighters, and one prominent referee, come up limping after dabbling in marijuana. Matt Riddle, Nick Diaz, Robbie Peralta, Thiago Silva, and Dave Herman, have all been pinched for smoking weed, and subsequently suspended. A few months ago referee Josh Rosenthal was literally pinched by federal law enforcement, and faces up to ten years in federal prison for running a professional growing operation which possessed some 1,300 marijuana plants. This is not to say that the usage of marijuana by fighters even remotely comes close to felonious intent to distribute, but it does show how rampant the marijuana problem is.
Regarding the widespread use of marijuana in his organization, UFC President Dana White once said,
“Everybody thinks that if you did this random testing you’d catch so many guys on PEDs. No, you’d catch more of the guys on marijuana. That’s where you’d really bust a lot of guys. So [we've got] 475 guys under contract and 400 of them would be out with marijuana [suspensions].
Forget about PEDs. If we get into this random testing you guys are talking about, you know how many guys would probably test positive for marijuana? It would probably be off the charts.”
I’m no great anti-marijuana crusader. I personally have no problems with people using it. However, as it stands it happens to be a drug that is illegal by an overwhelming number of states, and is banned by every athletic commission. With that said, I for one can’t fathom why a professional fighter, who needs to compete and win to keep food on the table would smoke marijuana right before he is scheduled to participate in a widely-watched mainstream MMA event, an event that is known to feature drug testing no less. Is it stupidity or ignorance, or a simple lack of caring, or did the flush kit not work?