Earlier this week, the Tennessean newspaper published an interview with former Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White in which White acknowledged that he was likely going to be suspended from the National Football League for four games because of marijuana use. White accepted his “wrongdoing” with the following mea culpa:
“I did it, so it is my fault. I smoked marijuana; that is all I have ever done. That’s all I do, that’s it. I smoke. I don’t care about any other drugs, but it’s marijuana. … But I have changed. I am a good man. Unfortunately the stuff that I did in my recent past caught up to me in the present and it’s affecting my future.”
We have written on this blog before about the travesty of having athletes and celebrities pilloried in the media for marijuana possession. And I have personally decried NFL policies that punish players for marijuana use and end up steering them toward alcohol instead. But the quote above really hits me hard for some reason.
We have seen other athletes, like Michael Phelps and Tim Lincecum, apologize for making the “mistake” of using marijuana. That is almost to be expected. I mean, the bottom line is that they did violate the law in some minor way. So as much as I might feel like they have nothing to apologize for, I can see why they are dong it.
What White is saying is different. He said that he has “changed” and is now a “good man.” The obviously implication is that when he was using marijuana, he was “bad.” Well, he wasn’t — at least not for using marijuana on its own. If he didn’t do anything to harm anyone else after consuming marijuana, then he was just choosing to relax with a substance less harmful than alcohol.
Unless White believes that having a beer makes him a bad person, there is no reason he should feel that way about using marijuana. In fact, given the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, the act of using marijuana instead of alcohol is far from bad; it is actually sensible.
So keep your chin up, LenDale! Societal attitudes are shifting, slowly but surely.