On Friday, June 11th, the state of Hawai’i shut down to honor the first king of the islands, Kamehameha the Great. Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaiwikapu kauʻi Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea (c. 1736? – May 8 or 14, 1819) is considered the founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawai’i.
Throughout the islands prior to the COVID19 pandemic, residents celebrated this annual holiday with inspiring traditions, such as lei draping, parades, festivals and, of course, hula performances.
Today, few will dispute that the modern kings wear black and green. The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors have earned four conference championships and won the Hearts & Minds of local residents.
The greatest quarterback in UH history is considered to be “Cannabis King” Colt Brennan. Tragically, Colt passed away on May 11, 2021 in California — just a month prior to the Great King’s observation. His father reported Colt’s death resulted from a fatal OD related to a pain pill cut with fentanyl, which is a powerful, deadly opioid.
In 2019 there were 6,198 drug OD deaths in California, highest in four years. In the Aloha state, drug overdose deaths registered a five-year high of 197. Colton “Colt” J. Brennan was only 37.
In an interview with Wade Hampton Peery, The Flow Theory Podcast, Colt disclosed he used cannabis before games to ease his anxiety and help him focus.
“This is something that started in junior college. I’d go to my pregame meal, then I’d go to my (hotel) balcony and roll a blunt, and I’d smoke a fat blunt before the game, both in junior college, in NFL and in college. Then I would take a shower, brush my teeth, get clothed up and then get on the bus to the game and I would be in the zone right there. Every time you come out of the tunnel it’s like someone puts a needle of adrenaline in your arm. You ain’t high no more, you are just ready to play the game. And so it would take away all that pre-game anxiety. All my team knew it. I don’t know if my coaches did or not but it was just something that I did.”
Colt Brennan was a Heisman Trophy finalist. He led Hawai’i to an undefeated regular season in 2007, which brought national fame and recognition to the program. Hawaii’s Greatest QB was the King of Cannabis.
Oh no, what do we tell the keiki? Just say no to drugs, right? Cannabis Colt smoked weed, pakalolo, ganja, marijuana, pot, the green leaf … a “fat blunt” prior to every game in junior college, NFL and at the University of Hawai’i. Players knew. Coaches knew or should have known. All looked the other way — winning at any cost was more important.
Cannabis apparently didn’t hurt Colt’s performance. His arsenal of arm angles, moxie and swag, as well as the million-megawatt smile delighted fans. However, medical cannabis remains socially unacceptable. Doctors urged Colt to use opioids to manage his pain. Opioids addicted and killed Colt. America’s drug policies killed Colt.
Naomi Osaka recently withdrew from the French Open. Similar to Colt, anxiety also plagues her career. Many athletes suffer anxiety before games and competition. Relaxation is key to getting in the flow or zone. Cannabis helped Colt perform at a higher level, at least from his perspective. Fans don’t seem to disagree.
As Colt used cannabis as a “performance-enhancing” drug, his victories should be erased and honors rescinded. Won’t happen. Colt is White, a famous football player, and much of society considers men like Colt to be untouchable heroes.
As a basketball player, I had a teammate, Byron In The Woods (#14), who was a transplant to our small community through a Mormon Church program.
Byron was raised in the Lakota Nation in South Dakota. As a Native American, he had medical issues consuming alcohol. Preferred cannabis. He led our team in scoring as a senior. I was second ranked scorer as a sophomore.
I ended up leading my team to numerous regional championships and set the school’s career scoring record. Earned a scholarship to to a major Division I university. Byron played like Steph Curry. Quick, deceptive, pure natural shooter — one of the best I’ve ever seen. Yet coaches considered his play to be undisciplined. He was a street baller and ended up in junior college (JC).
My college head coach, Jim “Killer” Killingsworth, recruited Byron from JC. During his visit, players took him to the Bengal Hut … our local watering hole. Athletes got a free pitcher of beer just for coming — I wasn’t even of age to drink; didn’t matter. Free beer! Beer brought the athletes; athletes attracted guys and gals. Cheap promotion.
Used to hate Saturday morning practices. Teammates would guzzle gallons of beer or hard drinks, howl at the moon all night in a drunken stupor, then show up last minute smelling like a brewery. Their sweat was Gin & Juice; their performance sucked. Athletes who used cannabis ate a good meal, went to be early, slept soundly and were ready to compete the next day.
Byron brought cannabis. Although a majority of players on our team used cannabis recreationally, those who knew, similar as UH did with Colt Brennan, kept this secret. Not with Byron. He lit up a joint and people went nuts: “an Injun smoked weed.”
Coach Killer knew by morning and ordered Byron to pack his bags. Kicked off the team before joining the team. Alcohol and tobacco were allowed; cannabis cost him a scholarship.
Cannabis and the Workplace
Colt Brennan relied on cannabis to improve his performance in the workplace. Those who knew didn’t mind. Winning mattered and that’s all that mattered in their mind. Many NBA and NFL athletes use cannabis.
Chris Long, NFL legend, is considered ahead of the curve when it comes to the NFL accepting cannabis use. His career highlights:
- 2 Time Super Bowl champion (LI, LII)
- Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (2018)
- NFL Alumni Lineman of the Year (2011)
- PFWA All-Rookie Team (2008)
- Ted Hendricks Award (2007)
- Dudley Award (2007)
- ACC Defensive Player of the Year (2007)
- Unanimous All-American (2007)
Chris has criticized the NFL for promoting both alcohol and tobacco, while restricting cannabis:
"We should be headed to a place where we allow players to enjoy what I would not even call a drug. You know, it’s far less dangerous than guzzling a fifth of alcohol and going out after a game. I think from a standpoint of what’s safer for people and the player, certainly people in the spotlight, it is far less harmful than alcohol, it is far less harmful than tobacco, and at various points in the league’s history, they have engaged in partnerships on different levels with those respective industries."
I was recently recruited by Hawaiian Electric to serve as a contracted DBA in their IT department. My performance was excellent. We had a winning record. My team coach, Lori Yafuso, wrote about me in her 90-day review:
YOU have been a great asset to our team and it is your personality and humble nature that makes all of us so comfortable working together. We have had contractors on the DBA team before, but never with the synergy and positive energy that you bring with you. I believe you have had the greatest influence in our success and glad that we selected the right contractor. You have definitely made your mark here at HECO and have set the bar very high for future contractors! Thank you for being you…keep doing what you do…keep that good karma flowing!
Hawaiian Electric CEO Connie Lau didn’t post a prohibition against medical cannabis. Even when I notified HR Rep Elizabeth “Liz” Deer of my disability and prescribed use, she didn’t caution me.
Similar to Colt, who was drafted into the NFL only to have two knee and two hip surgeries, I also have suffered two knee and two hip surgeries. Informed Ms. Deer my doctor recommended medicating at night before bed; never prior to or during work. Any issues, I asked?
No worries. She told me I would “be fine.” Why not? The State of Hawai’i legalized medical cannabis in 2000; legislators added anti-discrimination protections in 2015.
Medical cannabis is a critical men’s health issue. More men use medical cannabis in Hawai’i than women. More men than women suffer addiction and die in Hawai’i and across the U.S. because of dangerous opioid pain medications. Unfortunately, female managers in Hawai’i push men and Veterans out of the workplace due to their medical cannabis prescriptions.
On the national scene, the U.S. Congress in 2014 prohibited federal intrusion and mandated the Department of Justice defer to well-managed state programs, specifically acknowledging Hawaii’s successful history. State’s rights are supreme to the federal government on this evolving medical issue.
Hawaiian Electric HR director, Shana Buco, didn’t warn me about a medical cannabis restriction either. In fact, the HR department led me to believe I “was fine” and perpetrated a deception for eleven days that I had been hired.
Their team directed me to report for duty early Monday morning for my official first day as an internal employee. Ms. Buco fired me at lunch. Served as a HECO employee for about four hours. Cannabis policy destroyed my career. Their cruelty pierced my soul.
NFL $1,000,000 Challenge
The NFL recently opened discussions about using cannabis as a pain management alternative. A committee of medical experts appointed by the league and players union will study the medication and effects as an alternative pain treatment.
Neither the NCAA nor NFL will address Colt Brennan’s reports that he used cannabis as a performance-enhancing substance. There’s too much money and prestige on the line. Most of the nation today is waking to the danger of opioids, prescription pain killers and alcohol. It’s time to correct this injustice. Chris Long agrees:
"Testing players once a year for ‘street drugs,’ which is a terrible classification for marijuana, is kind of silly because, you know, players know when the test is, we can stop, and in that month or two that you stop, you’re going to reach for the sleeping pills, you’re going to reach for the pain killers, you’re going to reach for the bottle a little bit more. On the weekend, you’re going to have a few more drinks and a few turns into a few too many."
The NFL announced this week it will offer $1,000,000 grants for research seeking alternatives to opioids.
The NFL-NFLPA Pain Management Committee (PMC) formed in 2019 to benefit the health and safety of NFL players through education and research.
Now, PMC turns its attention to identifying potential research opportunities through a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process aimed at supplementing the PMC’s knowledge about pain management and the potential effects of pain and cannabinoids on athletic performance in elite football players. [more]
Athletes and employees aren’t the only professionals seeking common sense policies in the workplace. Hawaii’s U.S. Senator Brian Schatz recently re-introduced the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, which allows doctors for a five-year period who work at federal Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe cannabis to vets in the current 37 states with established medical cannabis programs.
Senator Schatz is passionate about this legislation, as veterans suffer numerous health problems, including chronic pain, traumatic brain injuries and PTSD at rates higher than the general population. At the same time, military veterans have faced greater obstacles historically to gaining access to medical cannabis than other groups. Over 20 million vets reside in the U.S. — many who are homeless and in need of assistance. [more]
“Cannabis prohibition kills Veterans. That may sound like a harsh way to put it, but it’s the way things are.”ERIC GOEPEL, VETERANS CANNABIS COALITION
Cannabis prohibition and negative stigma led to the death of Hawaii’s greatest quarterback, Colt Brennan. Isn’t it time to listen to our sports heroes? When performance matters, great athletes have shunned alcohol and opioid drugs for a more natural, less addictive and dangerous, plant-based medication.
Join The Team! Just say no to opioids. Legends such as Colt Brennan and Chris Long know: cannabis is king.
[Initially posted Waikiki Whisperer. Reprinted with permission]
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