A first-round pick of the Marlins in 2005, right-hander Ryan Tucker couldn't sustain a career in professional baseball in part because of injuries related to pitching. He probably could have benefited from being allowed to use cannabis to regulate his pain after four surgeries, but random drug testing in the minor leagues made that all but impossible. Now several years removed from chasing the major-league dream, Tucker is developing a marijuana cultivation and dispensing business in his home state of California.
Leafly Magazine recently profiled Tucker, who says cannabis "saved my life" and believes that "athletes in general can benefit greatly from a cannabinoid treatment plan, THC and CBD."
Such a plan might seem like a pipe dream for MLB, which watches the drug usage of its minor leaguers closely. MLB also tests major leaguers for PEDs including amphetamines, but they don't test randomly for marijuana. With societal attitudes and laws shifting regarding cannabis, Tucker says that marijuana use among major leaguers already is, well, high.
"When you're on the [major league] roster, you can use cannabis, and a lot of people do, openly."
As Leafly notes, it's an opinion backed up by sources such as Dirk Hayhurst, who wrote in "Out of My League" that marijuana has a very practical effect on those who partake:
"[A] lot of guys who would otherwise be bouncing off the walls – anxious, frenetic balls of hyper activity – these guys play better and they're more focused when they're toked up."
The evidence might be anecdotal at best, but considering the careers of certain players, it makes sense that regulated marijuana use could help, just like prescribed drugs for attention-deficit disorder might help a ballplayer focus.
Tucker's career was limited to 18 appearances between 2008 and 2011. He posted an 8.14 ERA in 42.0 innings for the Marlins and Rangers. By 2013, after enduring a torn labrum, he was pitching no more. He not only experienced the pain himself, and was spiraling toward depression, but Tucker also watched others go through hell, using a mix of painkillers, alcohol, and caffeine in order to cope. He thinks there is a better way—if only the people running MLB could get over certain double-standards.