Calvin Johnson wants in Michigan marijuana industry, was denied due to traffic ticket

Former <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/det" data-ylk="slk:Detroit Lions">Detroit Lions</a> wide receiver Calvin Johnson is trying to enter the marijuana business in Michigan. (AP)
Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is trying to enter the marijuana business in Michigan. (AP)

Calvin Johnson, and his old Detroit Lions teammate Rob Sims, are trying to get in the Michigan marijuana business.

Their application for prequalification for a marijuana dispensary, grow operation and marijuana processing facility was denied however, in part because of an old traffic ticket Johnson said he forgot about. 

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It’s a bit of an unusual story Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press wrote about Friday. Johnson has mostly laid low since his abrupt retirement following the 2015 season. Johnson was an unbelievable player with the Lions, but always a bit quiet. He was a bit of a mystery off the field.

Recreational marijuana became legal in Michigan this week. The Detroit Free Press said people are hopeful it will generate $800 million in revenue by 2024. It makes sense why Johnson and Sims would want in on it. 

But there was a problem.

Calvin Johnson denied prequalification for marijuana business

According to Gray’s story, Johnson and Sims were denied prequalification status by the Michigan Medical Licensing Board because of some old, minor issues. 

In Johnson’s case, it was an outstanding “failure to maintain lane” ticket from July 2014 in Atlanta. A spokesman for Johnson said he was unaware of the ticket and as soon as he heard about it, he flew to Georgia to take care of it. For Sims, who played for the Lions and Seahawks from 2006-14, he had an unspecified issue with some houses he owned in Dearborn, Michigan, and the spokesman said Sims took care of that issue as well. 

Still, they were denied.

“One is nine years old and one is four years old and there are warrants out,” board member and retired Michigan State Police officer Donald Bailey told Gray. “They’re minor, maybe even meaningless, but the problem is their response. We’re entering this highly regulated market. And if this is their response, that’s a problem for me.”

The former Lions can appeal the denial, Gray wrote.

Plenty of crossover with marijuana and former players

There has been plenty of crossover between football players and marijuana, which is banned in the NFL.

Some players, after their careers are done, have spoken publicly about the benefits of marijuana for things like pain management, something many NFL players are familiar with. Nothing in the Free Press story says if Johnson is a marijuana advocate or just seeing a business opportunity, but his spokesman talked about why there’s an appeal to marijuana for former football players.

“There is great interest because of head injuries and there are a number of football players looking into the research with cannabis and oils and the impact it might have on brain injuries,” Johnson’s spokesman John Truscott said, according to the Free Press. “And there are a lot of professional athletes who are interested in the business as they look at 20 years down and how it may impact them.”

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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