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Playing High

September 2016

Months after Colorado State's star running back abruptly quit the football team, he called me at 5 a.m. to tell me he wanted to share his story. That led us to discover his off-campus marijuana growhouse as we investigated how universities hand out opioids to help athletes manage pain while remaining strict on policies against all forms of marijuana.

Playing High: Marijuana in College Football: Image

Marijuana led CSU running back to quit football

If college athletes want to smoke marijuana, the NCAA probably won’t catch them.

Treyous Jarrells is proof.

The running back signed with CSU because of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes, and he was high in all but one game he played in across two seasons.

Jarrells, 23, left the Colorado State University football team early in the 2015 season due to concerns he’d fail a drug test and risk losing his financial aid.

Medical marijuana is legal in 25 states, and Jarrells has one of 102,620 medical licenses to legally grow the drug in Colorado.

But Jarrells’ use of marijuana, which he smokes to relieve chronic pain caused by playing football for 16 years, conflicts with NCAA and CSU’s list of banned substances. It’s a thorny issue that’s further complicated by the fact that the rampant use of university-administered opiates can have severe side effects. Jarrells says cannabinoids treat his pain in a safer way.

“I practiced under the influence. I played games under the influence. This is my medicine,” Jarrells said. “I’ve seen players at CSU pop five, 10 ibuprofens before practice. Daily. You think that’s good? Over the course of two, three years, that’s eating your liver away."

“I am not ashamed of what I did.”

Playing High: Marijuana in College Football: Text

Testing Numbers

Comparing the difference in athlete drug testing policies between Colorado's two largest public universities.

Playing High: Marijuana in College Football: HTML Embed

Sports Rx

A look at how many painkillers were distributed to athletes at the University of Colorado and CSU between 2013-16. Data was obtained via public records requests.

Playing High: Marijuana in College Football: HTML Embed
Playing High

Playing High

Playing High: Marijuana in College Football: Video Player
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