FORT COLLINS, Colo. — If college athletes want to use marijuana, the NCAA likely won’t catch them, and Treyous Jarrells is proof of that. He says he was high in almost every game he played. Now he has given up his dream of a football career for one that’s very different: He has one of 102,620 medical marijuana licenses to legally grow plants in Colorado. And he has a message for organized sports, especially football: It’s time to take marijuana off the banned-substance list.

Jarrells, 23, earned a scholarship to Colorado State University, where he averaged 5.2 yards per carry as a running back as a sophomore in 2014. Then he suddenly quit the team because he was afraid he’d finally get caught and lose his scholarship.

“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.”

Jarrells said he smokes marijuana to relieve chronic pain caused from injuries he suffered from playing football for 13 years, since Pop Warner in Sanford, Fla. Consuming marijuana for medical use is legal in 25 states, including Colorado. Jarrells said the THC in marijuana, which he also consumes through edibles, brings relief without long-term damage.

Jarrells is not alone. A small but growing number of current and former National Football League players are calling for the NFL to consider more research on marijuana. They include former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan and former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackleEugene Monroe.

Despite those pleas from players, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said before Super Bowl 50 last February that the league always reviews its drug policy, and have had talks in the past about medical marijuana, but “not recently.” Goodell went on to say he did not see any changes to the policy in the near future.

Goodell said the league’s medical experts have studied the issue but continue to believe the ban should remain intact for NFL players.

The use of marijuana conflicts with NCAA bylaws and Colorado State University athletics policy. But there is little risk of an athlete being caught. Colorado State’s parameters for drug testing include exceptional performance, reasonable suspicion and random selection. Jarrells said he was never tested.

The issue is complicated by health-related concerns that come with widespread use of university-prescribed opiates to relieve pain. From 2103 to 2016, Colorado State University ordered a combined 19,000 over-the-counter ibuprofens, acetaminophen and naproxen for its approximately 400 student-athletes, according to records obtained by the Coloradoan. By comparison, the University of Colorado in Boulder ordered 37,000 pills for its roughly 350 student-athletes.

It also prescribed 48 Vicodin tablets, although Colorado State’s head trainer, Terry DeZeeuw, said the majority of prescription medications for athletic injuries are filled at a pharmacy in the same manner as the general public and would not be part of the school’s logs.

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