Roughriders preach common sense when dealing with legalized marijuana

The Saskatchewan Roughriders aren’t immune from what is taking place across Canada and the legalization of marijuana

The legalization of marijuana should not provide Saskatchewan Roughriders players with any incentive to partake.

That is the message from head coach Chris Jones, who talked to the CFL team’s players in advance of the ban being lifted in Canada on Wednesday.

“Marijuana is legal, but as a professional football player, cigarettes have been legal for 100 years but you wouldn’t go smoke two packs of cigarettes prior to practice,” Jones said. “Alcohol has been legal since the 1930s. People are going to do what they do and we certainly hope that our guys use discretion.

“If you’re impaired, you’re impaired, regardless if it’s smoking marijuana and whether it’s legal or not. We’ve got young men and they’re faced with a lot of things. We hope that they make the right decisions.”

Defensive back Jovon Johnson, a Riders representative on the Canadian Football League Players’ Association, feels the legalization of cannabis won’t have a major impact on the CFL. The league has a drug policy in place, but only tests for performance-enhancing substances and not recreational drugs like cannabis.

“It’s more so about people in life in general and how it may help some and it may not,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t really factor into what we do as a football organization because guys are focused on football and not marijuana. We come here to get paid, to do a job, and our job is to entertain. That is no reason to be doing something that will impair you from doing that.”

Riders defensive end Willie Jefferson hopes that players are smart when it comes marijuana.

“Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you should go out and go overboard,” he said. “It’s a recreational drug, but some people tend to overdo it on recreational stuff like that.

“I wish the legalization would come out with a little more information to help people and things like that. I’m hoping to see great things from the medicinal side.”

Jefferson is familiar with the negative side of marijuana usage. In 2010, two violations for alleged marijuana possession within weeks of each other led to him being kicked off the Baylor University football team in his second season with the Bears.

“My life would probably be totally different (if marijuana was legal in 2010),” he said. “Times have changed and I guess they’re changing for the better … I’m glad that I’m here to inform other people about the ins and outs of marijuana use. They shouldn’t overdo it and not to take it as a free pass to do what you want to do because it’s legal.”

Jones, meanwhile, confirmed that defensive end Charleston Hughes will play on Saturday when the Riders visit the Calgary Stampeders. The news broke Tuesday that Hughes had been charged with impaired driving and failing to supply a breath sample for analysis.

According to a Regina Police Service report, Hughes was charged Oct. 11 after being found on the side of the road with his truck running at 2 a.m. Hughes wasn’t responsive to police and, upon being asked to exit the vehicle, he showed signs of alcohol intoxication. He was taken into police custody and charges were laid.

Hughes has been ordered to appear in Regina Provincial Court on Oct. 31.

The alleged incident served as a reminder that players need to be aware of the consequences of drinking and driving.

“It could happen to anybody, whether you have a few beers during dinner and maybe you’re driving and you get pulled over,” Johnson said. “It could also happen to anyone across the league, no matter who you are or what your name is. You just have to be cautious and you have to protect yourself at all times.”

A CFL spokesman told the Leader-Post on Thursday that the league doesn’t have a policy in place to deal with impaired driving. However, the commissioner can impose discipline if a player, coach or even an owner brings the league “into disrepute.”

The CFL is remaining in contact with the Riders as the team continues to gather more information on the matter.