C.J. Harris, a walk-on safety at Auburn, was told by Auburn officials that he couldn’t play football because he takes prescribed cannabis oil to treat his epilepsy.

Harris had been suffering seizures since his sophomore year in high school, where he was diagnosed. After finding unsuccessful treatment methods, his doctor prescribed cannabis oil and that has kept him from having a seizure for the past year and a half. Because the THC in cannabis oil would show up on a drug test and it’s against NCAA rules to have any trace of THC in your body. According to WGXA, Harris’ medication contains 0.3 percent THC. And Auburn broke the news because they knew that would make Harris ineligible to play.

I know the rule and am expecting a bunch of comments that say “The rules are the rules.” That might be correct, but that doesn’t mean the rule itself doesn’t also suck and that it shouldn’t be changed.

It’s not 1939. People are finally seeing the benefits of medical marijuana and aren’t treating it as this taboo, life-damaging drug like they did in Reefer Madness. But it looks like the NCAA is treating that movie as if it’s the gospel and still believe that the only people who take pot are unemployed degenerates who do nothing but play video games and eat Funyuns.

Clearly, the NCAA is worried about the slippery slope that would come with athletes using marijuana for recreational purposes. But even that is a flimsy excuse if that also results in disallowing people who need that to function in society. If competing in collegiate athletics is such a learning experience that the NCAA tries to sell us on, how are they not being hypocritical by having this zero tolerance mindset and keeping someone from that learning experience? Recreational use is one thing, medical use is another.

Harris is going to look into alternative methods that would make him eligible but that also means he is going to potentially suffer seizures. Because if what you are taking is supposed to result in not getting any more seizures, the only way to find out that it doesn’t work is if you suffer a seizure. The most common sense solution is for the NCAA to accept Harris’ medical clearance and allow him to take cannabis oil to treat his seizures but I highly doubt that happens. While the NCAA gives medical clearances to other banned drugs for medical purposes, marijuana is considered an “illicit drug” and doesn’t apply.

The last thing the NCAA needs is to have Harris suffer a seizure during a football game, knowing that they could’ve done something about that. But by clinging onto disproven stereotypes about marijuana, the NCAA is willing to open themselves up to this possibility and leave a “student-athlete” with the choice of seizures or football.


About Phillip Bupp

News and soccer editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. I also do video highlight game coverage for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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