Matt Riddle is Not a Stoner

By Ben Leven
Matt Riddle UFC
Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

Marijuana use in American society has always been tenable. Despite the fact that it’s statistically safer to use than alcohol or tobacco, it remains in a somewhat legal limbo status.  However for all intents and purposes, marijuana is an illegal drug and it’s no fun getting caught by the wrong crowd.  It’s especially not fun when you have a celebrity status and it was discovered that you were using pot, especially if you’re an athlete.

You guys remembered back in 2009 when authentic photos of Michael Phelps smoking a bong were leaked? To the average college stoner, it would be just another picture to foolishly add to the amassing collection on their facebook pages. Well unfortunately, because of Phelps celebrity status there were severe consequences. Aside from being shamed, Phelps lost Kellogg as a sponsor. The moral of the story: celebrity athletes and pot don’t mix.

Anyhow, it has been brought to some attention that UFC welterweight competitor Matt Riddle had failed his UFC 149 drug test.  He has already served his 90 day suspension, but on October 20 this news came to light. Like Phelps, Riddle’s marijuana use resulted in consequences. Not only was Riddle suspended, but his win over Chris Clements was ruled a no contest.

Although his victory over Clements was stricken from the record, this should not be stricken from the record: “Matt Riddle is not a stoner”, or at least according to him. On the MMA hour with Ariel Helwani, Riddle defended his marijuana use and not being a stoner.

“I do smoke but I’m not smoking to get stoned,” he said. “I’m smoking so I can finally relax, sit back and just not worry about things. People, maybe they did it in college one way, but for a guy like me, for a professional athlete that goes through what we go through, it’s medicine for me. Maybe for some little stoner sitting on the couch playing XBox, for him, it’s a drug. For me, it’s medicine.”

This is a ridiculous defense. I see where he’s coming from by smoking not to simply get stoned. I understand that his life is probably very stressful and having a vice such as marijuana is reasonable. In Riddle’s case it’s very reasonable. Riddle has a medicinal marijuana card from Nevada that he tweeted to further defend his use.  There is more than one way to relax without drugs and yes it is a drug, all medicines are drugs. He tries to distinguish himself from the average stoner.  In his statement the “little stoner” getting high and playing Xbox is doing it because it’s fun.

Riddle uses it because he needs it to relax from the stressful life of being a pro athlete. I really don’t see the difference.  His defense implies that he is dependent on marijuana to cope with the stress, pain and anxiety that comes from his pro athlete life style. Now let’s say the “little stoner” is smoking pot because he’s dependent on it for having a good time.

No matter how you justify it, at the end of the day you’re using an illegal substance as a crutch.  And no matter how much the majority of Americans want marijuana to be legal, it’s illegal. There are severe consequences if you don’t abide by marijuana laws and those laws apply to everyone. Why does a young athlete need a medicinal marijuana card?  Riddle should learn to accept those laws and stop making excuses.

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