4 years in the past, Jordan Reed heard a few enterprise alternative from a pal and knew he needed to speculate. The marketplace for the sector was booming, and the then-Washington tight finish had been fascinated by the business for a while. And he had the funds to get on board: He’d simply signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension with $22 million assured.
Reed, who retired from the NFL earlier this yr, now not performs within the NFL. As a substitute, the 31-year-old is among the many many former athletes who’ve jumped into the multi-billion greenback enterprise of marijuana.
As his former workforce juggles accidents, COVID-19 and NFC rivals for an opportunity to slide into the postseason, Reed’s focus is on the shares he owns in a Colorado develop home, dispensary and processor.
Hashish, as a authorized business, remains to be in its infancy within the U.S. Solely 18 states have legalized leisure marijuana (together with Colorado) — all throughout the final 9 years. Thirty-six states have legalized medical marijuana. The substance stays unlawful on a federal degree and is classed as a Class 1 drug, placing it in the identical class as heroin and LSD.
However there’s cash to be made. Authorized hashish gross sales have been a document $17.5 billion in 2020, in line with BDSA, a hashish gross sales analysis firm. That’s up 46% from the yr prior.
Reed is set to carve out his area of interest. For now, the one-time Professional Bowler is just an investor — not an operator, that means he doesn’t develop or promote his personal product. However Reed mentioned he’s “undoubtedly wanting” to turn into an operator sometime.
Since hanging up in cleats, Reed says he’s turn into extra concerned within the marijuana business — surrounding himself with mentors and leaders from the enterprise to assist with his transition out of soccer.
“I’ve discovered lots, truthfully,” Reed advised The Washington Occasions. “I deal with it identical to soccer, so far as actually simply immersing myself into it and getting as a lot data as I probably can on a day-to-day foundation. … It’s been actually a studying expertise on simply how you can do enterprise. Interval.”
Excessive (and low) occasions
Soccer takes a toll on gamers, and few perceive that actuality in addition to the oft-injured Reed. Regardless of the 6-foot-3, 240-pound man’s immeasurable expertise and bodily presents — “Jordan Reed vs. The Legal guidelines of Physics” learn one headline close to his peak — the 31-year-old’s profession was derailed by nagging illnesses and brain-rattling concussions.
Reed suffered 10 documented concussions as a university and professional participant — together with seven in a seven-year span within the NFL. Docs suggested retirement after he admitted he nonetheless felt lingering results from the pinnacle blows.
It ought to come as no shock, then, that Reed actively smoked marijuana to deal with the ache over the course of his profession. He mentioned he needed to “discover methods” across the NFL’s guidelines — which banned the substance — as a result of he felt the drug was a safer different than opioids and different ache killers.
“Hashish was by no means one thing I wanted to do day by day,” mentioned Reed, who performed for Washington from 2013 to 2019. “I had full management over my use of hashish. It was simple for me to say, ‘I’m not going to make use of it proper now. I’m going to make use of it after I really want it.’ For me, it was truly helpful.”
Reed integrated hashish use into his rehab. In 2018, when he had the sesamoid bone in every of his huge toes eliminated, Reed mentioned he developed a plan to assist overcome the “great ache” from the surgical procedures and observe.
Over the course of the season, Reed says he would smoke marijuana whereas he underwent dry needling remedy — a painful therapy that concerned medical personnel sticking needles into his ft to interrupt up the scar tissue from surgical procedure. This is able to be accomplished Tuesday via Friday.
“That season I performed 13 video games in a row,” he mentioned. “That was probably the most video games I performed (consecutively) in a season.”
An unconventional area
If there’s a rush to get into the hashish business, athletes have adopted the development.
Stars like Joe Montana, Mike Tyson, former NBA ahead Al Harrington and NFL operating again Ricky Williams all have gotten into the area — whether or not as buyers or operators.
Tyson, as an example, launched his personal pressure of hashish final yr referred to as “Tyson Ranch.” Retired NBA star Allen Iverson not too long ago turned a model ambassador for Harrington’s hashish enterprise, Viola. (Reed declined to share the title of the corporate he invested in.)
The budding relationship between athletes and people already concerned within the hashish business is a part of an general “matching course of” that is sensible for each events, mentioned College of Virginia assistant professor of commerce Paul Seaborn.
For hashish companies, bringing in an outdoor investor from the sports activities realm is a “inventive” strategy to increase capital when federal legal guidelines restrict the forms of financial institution loans and different funding strategies the businesses can obtain, Mr. Seaborn mentioned.
An athlete’s funding additionally brings an endorsement — a bonus given the restricted methods the businesses can market themselves, he mentioned.
For the athletes, Mr. Seaborn mentioned hashish presents a “robust cultural connection” through which Black athletes can assist different Black-related companies or communities. He pointed to NBA Corridor of Famer Chris Webber’s plan to open a $175 million hashish compound in Detroit.
“The dimensions of the authorized market within the U.S. is just going in a single path — and that’s up and up and up,” Mr. Seaborn mentioned.
Nonetheless, there are societal stigmas round marijuana that exist — whilst public polling has shifted dramatically in recent times in favor of supporting legalization. This previous summer season, sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was left off the U.S.’ Monitor and Area workforce within the Tokyo Olympics after she examined optimistic for hashish.
Richardson confronted a one-month suspension for taking the drug, which she mentioned she used after studying of her mom’s dying.
President Biden, who helps federal decriminalization of the drag although has stopped in need of advocating it to be legalized nationwide, mentioned he was “proud” of Richardson, however advised reporters: “Guidelines are guidelines.”
Leagues just like the NBA and NFL technically prohibit hashish however have relaxed their insurance policies in recent times.
The NFL, for instance, agreed to cease suspending gamers for marijuana beneath its new collective bargaining settlement — which went into impact this yr. The NBA introduced not too long ago that gamers wouldn’t be examined for marijuana for a second straight season.
When Reed started utilizing marijuana early in his profession, he mentioned he often felt dangerous — like “I used to be doing one thing fallacious.”
He added he felt much less self-conscious about it as he realized how the drug helped him.
Life after soccer
He mentioned he’s seen Reed throw himself into the enterprise world in methods that may be uncommon for former athletes. “Actually, it’s probably the most uplifting transitions that I’ve seen popping out of soccer,” mentioned Easley, who performed within the NFL for 4 seasons and invests in the identical hashish firm as Reed. “With the ability to take our ability units and our drive and our need — to have the ability to switch that over to enterprise — he’s undoubtedly confirmed me, extra so, how you can function on the enterprise aspect.”
Reed mentioned he appreciates Easley’s assist, although he admitted that retirement has “had its challenges.”
Soccer was his life for the final 17 years, and Reed mentioned he misses taking part in the sport.
Reed’s enterprise ventures prolong past hashish.
Reed and Easley, who’re each Black, mentioned that they’re centered on lobbying for federal legalization and advocating for range within the hashish area. They wish to see extra alternatives for minorities, given the hashish sector is primarily White.
A 2017 examine from Marijuana Enterprise Each day mentioned greater than 80% of hashish companies are owned by Whites.
At one level in the course of the dialog for this text, Reed famous how authorized hashish was anticipated to rake in $40 billion by “2024, 2025.” The BDSA certainly tasks venues of $41 billion by 2026.
“It’s a booming business,” Reed mentioned. “And it’s not slowing down any time quickly.”