Robert Garrigus continues to speak out about the PGA Tour policies regarding marijuana, which got him suspended for three months this year, and Oxycontin, a highly addictive substance that’s contributed to the opioid crisis.
Garrigus was the first player on the tour suspended for a “drug of abuse” when he failed a March test due to elevated levels of THC, an active ingredient in marijuana. He first said he had relapsed, but upon his return in July said it was medical marijuana and he had gone over the limit allowed by the PGA.
The 42-year-old opened up with Adam Schupak at Golfweek about the tour’s policy allowing Oxycontin but not marijuana for medical issues and how strict timeline suspensions are unfair.
Garrigus says he’s better on the golf course with THC than Oxycontin
Marijuana is now legal in some states, but still banned for most if not all professional sporting organizations. PGA Tour officials said they rely on the World Anti-Doping Agency to determine what is a banned substance.
On the list is marijuana. Not on the list is Oxycontin, a drug used for pain that’s given an exemption by WADA in “extreme,” “limited-time” circumstances, Andy Levinson, the Tour’ senior vice president of administration, told Golfweek.
Garrigus still takes issue with that. Via Golfweek:
“There’s something new that hurts every single day. Being a golfer for 25 years I guess that’s going to happen,” he said. “But I could be on Oxycontin on the golf course and get a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) for that. I think that is ridiculous. The Tour can talk to me all they want about it but that is a double standard. If you think I’m better on the golf course on Oxycontin than I am on THC, then you’ve lost your mind. It makes me laugh.”
Doctors began prescribing more opioids beginning in the late 1990s for pain, which has spread into a country-wide epidemic as people become addicted and some overdose. It has been declared a public health emergency by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
People have started turning to medical marijuana and CBD-based products, which provide the benefits without the high, to ease pain. Garrigus, who has been open about a history of drug problems, was prescribed marijuana for knee and back pain. He told Golfweek that his failed test came 10 days after he last took marijuana and after the worse round of his career.
“The fact that it is socially unacceptable for cannabis and CBD right now blows my mind. It’s OK to take Oxycontin and black out and run into a bunch of people, but you can’t take CBD and THC without someone looking at you funny. It makes no sense,” Garrigus said.
“I’m not mad at anybody but it makes me laugh at the whole way it is set up. There needs to be something different.”
Suspensions due to its use have created caution with PGA Tour players, who say it could benefit them but they’re too paranoid to try. It’s becoming more mainstream with retired athletes.
Former NFL receiver Calvin Johnson’s marijuana business has partnered with Harvard to research the benefits on CTE. Superstars like the NFL’s Rob Gronkowski, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots who retired at 30, and USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe have partnered with CBD companies.
Garrigus wants different type of suspensions
Matt Every was suspended in October for violating the drugs of abuse policy, becoming the second to be punished for marijuana in the PGA. They were both suspended 12 weeks by rule, but Garrigus doesn’t believe this ruling is fair.
Since he failed the test in March, Garrigus has missed 12 tour dates.
“There also needs to be some discrepancy there,” Garrigus told Golfweek. “There’s a gray area there, but the Tour has always been black and white.”
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