Darryl Strawberry Calls Weed ‘Gateway Drug,’ Other Athletes Argue Otherwise

The former MLB's star comments earned plenty of backlash

Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Stringer/Getty Images

Well it looks like we can’t go a full week without a celebrity making an unqualified opinion about cannabis. Former New York Mets star Darryl Strawberry made headlines recently when he argued against athletes using cannabis as a natural pain reliever, calling it a “gateway drug.”

“Most people don’t understand marijuana is a drug,” Strawberry told TMZ Sports. “It’s just the beginning. Starting people off when they’re young and then it leads to everything else.”

“Most young people start off with marijuana … it’s a gateway,” he added. “I started with marijuana when I was young—14, 15 years old—and it led me to everything else.”

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Strawberry was suspended three times during his MLB career for cocaine usage. The ex-right fielder also opened up about his sex addiction in 2017, telling Dr. Oz he “would go between innings, and stuff like that and run back and have a little party going on.”

Those anti-marijuana comments have driven backlash from various corners of the internet, including Stephen Jackson, the cannabis advocate and former NBA star. Jackson initially called Strawberry “a whole crackhead,” though he later walked back those comments. He did remain firm in his statement that cannabis was not a gateway drug for athletes.

“If you think weed is a gateway drug, then you weak-minded,” he said. “It’s a gateway for weak-minded people. That’s just what it is. So if you weak-minded, don’t smoke weed because it’s going to make you try coke and crack.”

Athletes for Care, a group made of former athletes that advocates for medical cannabis to treat ailments, also rejected Strawberry’s position and his notion that cannabis “destroys lives.”

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“Many across the country are unfamiliar with the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant and Mr. Strawberry is no exception,” Anna Valent, Executive Director of Athletes For Care, said in a statement. “As an organization that provides a community for athletes in their life after a career in sports, we empathize with Mr. Strawberry’s struggle with substance abuse.”

“Our organization’s members include ex-players from every professional sports league, who have found that regulated, properly dosed cannabis can provide a better quality of life, and we believe that every patient deserves to understand this alternative,” she added. “We invite Mr. Strawberry to join our organization because, even beyond cannabis, his experiences through the years are extremely relevant to this conversation.”

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