I was only 16 when I was told no more contact sports. When I was 19, I was informed I had osteoarthritis in my left knee. At that point, I was told no more sports period. This made sense because that was the leg most weakened by my polio. Did I listen? Heck no, I was 19.

Eugene Monroe began speaking out against the NFL’s rules against the use of cannabis even before he retired in protest of them. Eugene became an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 and was plagued by injuries before retiring in 2016. I can well understand the pain Eugene is experiencing.

Barry Considine (GoFundMe)

Eugene Monroe was right to walk away from football, not so he could become a national spokesperson for cannabis reform but to end the damage football was inflicting on his body. I’m tempted to say I can identify but I was never a NFL offensive tackle colliding with equally as large defensive linemen.

Cannabis use costing the men who have played since Pop Warner football millions. Last year a video of 2016’s top prospect, Laremy Tunsil smoking cannabis cost him an estimated $17.5 million dollars in his first NFL contract. I’m told by fans of the Dolphins he had a decent rookie season.

Our own home team the Baltimore Ravens has been without certain players for cannabis use. Darren Waller and Matt Elam have both been suspended for marijuana use. They may not be one of the best at their positions but Le’Veon Bell certainly is and he served a three game suspension. Martavis Bryant lost all of last season due to a marijuana use suspension.

Each game Bell missed cost him $74,834. The median American household income is just over $50K/yr. Smoking cannabis cost Le’Veon Bell more per game than a median family earns in a year.

Seantrel Henderson finished last season under suspension and will begin this season still under it. I don’t know if Le’Veon just likes cannabis but Seantrel has Crohn’s Disease. Like Tunsil, his cannabis use cost him millions in signing incentives. Crohn’s Disease was one of the earliest condition’s that was identified as cannabis helping far better than what Big Pharma and the NFL would prefer he take. As an activist, I hope Henderson does decide to file a civil rights suit against the NFL.

Following last November’s election, five more teams face players legally being able to use cannabis recreationally but the NFL does not care. In total, ten NFL teams play in states where cannabis is legal for either medicinal purposes or pleasure. How can the NFL refuse the players in states where cannabis use is legal the same rights’ as their fans?

Congress, in its infinite lack of intelligence, has still refused to acknowledge one simple fact. Budweiser may not want cannabis legal but the majority of their consumers do. It is going to take players who, unlike Monroe, are still active filing a civil rights violation suits in each of the federal court of the states that have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis.

My personal muscular/skeletal problems nearly cost me my marriage, it caused me to go bankrupt and it cost me the career I loved the most. The last time I was chef on the line I hit the deck. They carried me out in an ambulance still unable to move my legs.

I had hopes of Oscars & Tony’s in college. In the restaurant business, the chef is the lead. Exit Chef Barry stage right, and eventually re-enter stage left as a cannabis activist/writer. Eugene Monroe, Seantrel Henderson, Ricky Williams, Le’Veon Bell and all the NFL players’ current as well as future players should not have to worry about cannabis use any longer.

Cannabis use dates back to 2900 BC and Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi. It is time for the billionaire NFL owners to wake up to the reality of 2017 America. DeMaurice Fitzgerald Smith, executive director for the NFL Player’s Association and Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, are inching their way towards sanity. It is time for them to run to daylight.

Barry Considine is a cannabis reform activist from Halethorpe, Md. and polio survivor. In 2007 he became to first Maryland patient to testify in favor of medicinal cannabis use.