5 Athletes Who Have Smoked Weed (And Why They Got In Trouble For It)

5 Athletes Who Have Smoked Weed (And Why They Got In Trouble For It)

September 19, 2023

By Emma Grace

So we’ve all seen the news--this famous athlete tested positive for weed! It’s the end of the world as we all know it!

Not. True!

In fact, there are plenty of world-class athletes who have admitted to smoking pot, from track stars like Sha’Carri Richardson to NBA stars like Lebron James. So, if marijuana is supposed to make you a lazy couch potato, how do these athletes do it?

I recommend checking out this article about cannabis in the gym to learn more about how pot can positively impact your gym experience. In this article, we’ll discuss rules and regulations surrounding marijuana in sports, plus some top-tier athletes who’ve used it. 

So, Why All The Fuss?

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering why we still test for cannabis in major sporting events such as the Olympics. The answer for that (at least in the case of international sports) is pretty simple: the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) still lists marijuana as a “substance of abuse” along with heroin, cocaine, etc. If you’ve ever smoked before, then clearly you know that pot is not comparable with hard drugs, not even a little!

The WADA bans substances for many reasons, one of which is “it represents an actual or potential health risk.” Weed, like anything you put in your body (including mac 'n cheese), can change things--in rare cases, it can cause extreme nausea, a condition called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. But unless they’re adding Kraft to the list of prohibited substances, there’s not much reason to keep weed on there except for stigma. Alcohol was removed from the prohibited substances list effective January 1, 2018, and as weed becomes increasingly de-stigmatized, we all hope to see it removed from the list soon.

Despite the rules and regulations in an athletes’ home country, they still must abide by the rules of the WADA in an international competition. So Canadian athletes, despite the fact that recreational weed is legal in Canada, cannot have THC in their systems for the Olympics. CBD, however, is completely okay, and is actually great for muscle soreness and tension. That’s a huge win for these athletes, considering how intense their workouts must be.

It’s also worth mentioning that plenty of studies show that weed (both straight CBD and strains with THC) can help to reduce anxiety. For athletes with the world watching, this can be a massive benefit. We all know how much pressure professional athletes are under, and weed can really help to alleviate that stress. Hopefully, we see regulation changes coming soon that can allow athletes to use cannabis to relieve stress and performance anxiety. 

Here at home, weed is not legal on a federal level yet, however, things are starting to relax. NFL players can now smoke pot during the offseason, and the penalties for smoking during the season are much lower. That’s a win for cannabis here in the U.S.!

As marijuana becomes a more socially acceptable substance, I feel confident that we’ll see major changes in policy surrounding athletes soon. The NFL is already paving the way, and I believe there’s more to come. 

On an international level, however, things will probably be slower-going. That being said, the WADA allows for athletes to smoke pot during training, but not for competition. And since THC can be present in a hair follicle test for up to 90 days, athletes need to be careful if there’s a competition coming up. But, since there are big changes underway in the United States, I can see things taking a more progressive turn on an international level soon!

Famous Athletes Who Smoke (Or Have Smoked) Pot

There are lots of athletes who use cannabis, from Olympians to NBA stars. Here are some famous names you might recognize:

1. Sha’Carri Richardson

I wanted to talk about Sha’Carri first because her story is a huge one right now. As most of us know, Sha’Carri is one of the fastest women in the world and is faster than most guys, too. After her amazing Olympic Trials race, her drug test came back positive for THC, which led to a 30-day suspension and losing her spot in Tokoyo. That being said, I think we should all take a moment to applaud how she’s handling the situation: “I know what I did, I know what I'm supposed to do, I'm allowed not to do and I still made that decision. I'm not making an excuse.” 

While it stinks that we won’t get to see her run in the Olympics (this year, at least), we should all be proud of how Sha’Carri is handling this whole situation. She’s being professional, calm, and she’s owning up to it. While most of us disagree with the rules that athletes can’t have THC in their systems (including Sha’Carri), we should applaud how professionally she’s handling the situation. 

2. Lebron James

Lebron James is one of the kings of basketball and always has been. Even in high school, he was a star, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated at only 17 years old. After that, with the media all over, he says he turned into “a big-headed jerk” who smoked his fair share of weed. His friends on the team also suffered from the sudden spotlight, using pot to cope, and he says “we are to blame for that, but so are adults who treated us that way and then sat back and smugly watched the self-destruction.” 

Being 17 in the spotlight isn’t easy, and using any substance to cope isn’t necessarily healthy, but clearly, it didn’t impact his performance too much. Lebron’s been dominating the NBA for the majority of my lifetime, and it doesn’t seem like he’s planning to quit anytime soon. As far as cannabis goes, we’re not sure whether or not he still smokes, but he does celebrate with a cigar after a big win so… it’s entirely possible.

3. Michael Phelps

Is he part-human, part fish? I’m not entirely sure, but the 28-time Olympic medalist had a photo leaked in 2009 of him smoking a bong. Back when this all took place, recreational weed was illegal nationwide, so he faced a pretty harsh penalty. He was suspended from competition for three months (although he didn’t miss any Olympic games) and lost a massive partnership with Kellogg’s cereal. He made the typical ‘I’m 23 and stupid and sorry’ apology, and it’s unclear whether he’s touched weed or not since then. 

However, the main takeaway from this is that clearly, you can smoke weed and still be an amazing athlete. I mean, 23 gold medals--how can you beat that?

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger

That’s right--the Terminator, governor of California, and 7-time Mr. Olympia had a really good time in the 70s. He famously rolled and smoked a joint in the 1977 documentary “Pumping Iron,” although he isn’t so much into recreational smoking anymore. It’s worth noting that he’s never apologized for enjoying recreationally, though, and that it clearly didn’t hurt his bodybuilding career.

That being said, Arnie did do the residents of California a huge favor when he was governor in 2011. He was able to change the law surrounding possession of marijuana in a big way--possession of under 1 ounce was no longer a misdemeanor, but an infraction. This meant that California residents would only face a fine of up to $100, and it wouldn’t even go on their criminal record. This change was a huge step towards legalizing recreational weed in California. Thanks, Arnie!

5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

If you don’t know who Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is, I’m going to assume you don’t watch too much basketball. This legend played 20 seasons in the NBA (from 1969-1989), earning himself the title of NBA MVP 6 times and the title of NBA All-Star a whopping 19 times. That’s some serious award-winning. 

Kareem smokes to “alleviate the nausea from his migraine headaches,” and has been arrested twice, once in 1998 for possessing 6 grams in the Toronto airport and once in 2000 for driving under the influence in L.A. Luckily for him, he now has a prescription in California, so he’s free to smoke!

And again, clearly, smoking didn’t hurt his career too much. NBA All-Star 19 times is like… well, there’s really nothing else like it!


Loads more athletes smoke weed, however, we here at MonroeBlvd wanted to show you the big ones to prove that cannabis can be a part of anyone’s life. Even professional athletes can benefit from its’ awesome properties (like nausea and migraine relief, in Kareem’s case).

So if you’re worried that marijuana will ruin your workout, fear not! There are tons of myths about cannabis in the gym, but that’s all they are--myths. These athletes prove you can be the best of the best and still enjoy cannabis. 


Emma Grace is a full-time student, writer, and lover of Marvel movies. She spends most of her time ignoring her responsibilities in favor of reading, learning global geography, and finding new ways to prepare instant noodles. She lives with her parents and sister and a very needy dog named Eloise.

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