Did The Baltimore Ravens Release Eugene Monroe For His Medical Marijuana Advocacy?

By John Lavitt 06/21/16

The 29-year-old left tackle is the first active NFL player to publicly advocate for medical marijuana as an alternative to opioid painkillers. 

Did The Baltimore Ravens Release Eugene Monroe For His Medical Marijuana Advocacy?
Photo YouTube/Baltimore Ravens

Despite being one of the best left tackles in the NFL, Eugene Monroe was released by the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday, and some wonder if it had anything to do with his recent medical marijuana advocacy.

Monroe became the first active NFL player to publicly advocate for medical marijuana in May. He made headlines for urging the NFL to remove pot from its list of banned substances so players can use it as an alternative to prescription painkillers, and for donating $80,000 to fund cannabis research. After last week's termination of his contract, we can't help but wonder: did his public support of a substance still prohibited by the NFL lead directly to his departure?

According to an article announcing his departure on the Ravens' website, Monroe used time off after having shoulder surgery to "become the first active NFL player to openly campaign for the use of medical marijuana." And, as the article noted, the Ravens "did not rally behind the cause."

During the offseason, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh addressed Monroe's statements on medical marijuana. “I promise you, he does not speak for the organization,” he said at the time. Despite this, Harbaugh said Thursday that Monroe's release had nothing to do with his advocacy.

"Football circumstances, 100 percent football circumstances. That’s it, that’s all it ever was. It’s well-documented, the circumstances and situation. It’s no reflection on Eugene Monroe in any way," said Harbaugh at a press conference. "This organization has always been very forward thinking, very open and very in front of all kinds of issues. We’ve always allowed our players to speak out, speak their mind and be who they are."

Harbaugh continued, saying that it's tough to deal with the speculation and "statements that really have no basis in fact or reality whatsoever" regarding the reason behind Monroe's termination. "People will believe what they want to believe," Harbaugh said.

But whether or not he was let go for his stance on pot, Monroe isn't backing down from his advocacy despite the setback to his on-field career. "I don’t regret taking this stand and will continue to push for change," he told FOX Business. "I can’t say for sure whether or not my stance on medical cannabis was the reason the Ravens released me. However, as I’ve said in the past, they have distanced themselves from me and made it clear that they do not support my advocacy."

In terms of his stance on NFL policy, Monroe further illuminated his position. “I’m not satisfied with it and I won’t be until the NFL changes its policies and stops punishing players for consuming cannabis," he told FOX Business. "While there’s more research to be done, there’s certainly research already suggesting this is a safer drug than what they’re prescribing in our country."

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.