Entrepreneurs / Ganjapreneur

Ricky Williams Has The Last Laugh

Once the poster child of a stoner athlete, the ex-NFL running back is is making great strides with his cannabis company.
Ricky Williams Has The Last Laugh
Image credit: My Mystic Journey LA via Twitter
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Former NFL running back Ricky Williams remembers when his use of marijuana made him an outcast among both his peers and potential business associates.

Williams said that people didn’t want to associate with him because of his use of cannabis. “My past kept haunting me,” Williams told the Roll Up Podcast.

That’s all changed for the Pro Bowl running back. Now, he’s become an entrepreneur in cannabis with his line of products called Real Wellness by Ricky Williams. According to his website, he is offering “an herbal approach to everyday wellness.”

That may sound like the tagline of any number of marijuana brands. But Williams can claim he was far out in front -- and in a very public way -- on the issue of marijuana and the potential health benefits.

Related: 5 Surprising Truths About Canadian Legalization

“Most Infamous Stoner Athlete”

In a way, Williams’ experience with marijuana personifies the changing attitudes on cannabis. A decade ago, while a star in the NFL, he became the target of both jokes and the NFL’s substance abuse policy for talking openly about using marijuana.

That was an unusual stance from such a big star. And at the time, he was one of the biggest. Between 1999 and 2011, playing mostly with the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins, Williams rushed for more than 10,000 yards, including five 1,000-yard seasons.

He also was public about his use of marijuana, becoming “America’s most infamous stoner athlete,” according to Sports Illustrated. He failed four drug tests, all for cannabis use, he told the magazine. In 2004, he decided to retire early and spent the year studying holistic medicine at the California College of Ayurveda.

He returned to the Dolphins in 2005. However, in 2006, he missed an entire season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

He told Sports Illustrated that those years in the middle of his career cost him about $5 million to $10 million in salary and endorsements. He’s hoping to make that back, and then some.

Related: New California Law Makes it Easier to Erase Old Marijuana Convictions

Early Adooter

Williams launched Real Wellness earlier this year in California (a native of San Diego, he now lives in Venice Beach). Both medical and recreational marijuana is now legal in the Golden State.  

But long before marijuana was the "in" thing, Williams believed in the medicinal value of marijuana. Since leaving the NFL, he 's spent his time studying the potential of marijuana for pain management and other conditions.

Williams told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel: “I am known as a professional football player. In the last 14 years, I have been educating myself and training as a healthcare practitioner.”

His products include salves, tonics and vape cartridges, which he says are a “modern reintroduction to the healing power of ancient herbs.” The products contain either CBD or THC, or sometimes both.

Williams believes there is a huge and growing market for his product. He saw a microcosm of that market in the NFL. Williams said more than half of the players he played within the NFL used marijuana, including quarterbacks and coaches, according to Sports Illustrated.

Follow dispensaries.com on Instagram to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.

By Javier Hasse
From retailers to growers, producers, and suppliers, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of startup opportunities in this emerging market. In Start Your Own Cannabis Business, marijuana, biotech, and entrepreneurship reporter Javier Hasse introduces forward-thinking entrepreneurs like you to the industry and shares hard-earned tips and success stories from pioneers and visionaries in the marijuana industry.
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