Weed, ESPN, and Dave Brandon

Submitted by Mr. Rager on April 18th, 2012 at 11:47 AM


David Brandon pops in with his opinion on this front page ESPN piece about weed.  

Most interesting paragraph:

"Wolverines are now suspended for 10 percent of their team's competitions after the first positive drug test and 33 percent of competitions after a second, and they receive a one-year suspension from all activities after a third positive result. "I think it's a competitive disadvantage to have a program where there is drug usage as part of the culture," Brandon says. "I don't look at it as a competitive disadvantage if we have to suspend a student-athlete from time to time to make a point.""




April 18th, 2012 at 12:42 PM ^

Worthless? Smoking weed makes you worthless? Have to disagree. I grew up around it and have known a lot of people who smoked, including my parents, who are/were worthwhile productive members of society.

Blue in Yarmouth

April 18th, 2012 at 12:54 PM ^

Yeah, that was a pretty harsh post. I don't smoke anymore, but did a lot growing up and still associate with a lot of people who do (my sister and brother-in-law smoke everyday). It's illegal so depending on your view of the importance of the law one could say people shouldn't do it...but breaking laws certainly doesn't make people worthless, or even a bad person necessarily. We just don't know what circumstances people find themselves in that lead to the dsecisions they make.

Having said all that, I think that if a school has agreed to give a person a full scholarship to attend their university and play a sport, they also have the right to make a rule such as this. If the law changes, they probably still have that right. I look at a scholarship the same way I do a professional contract that has stipulations (often many of which mean theplayer can't take part in legal things that the team thinks would be detrimental to their play) around a players choices outside of the sport. I know one of my friends used to love sky diving but is no longer allowed to do it because of his contract.


April 18th, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

You made me wonder...

These are not hardly the first people I've heard of who "smoke everyday".  But if we knew someone who "drank every day", which is even legal, wouldn't we say he or she had a problem?  Or are the majority who smoke every day not really smoking a lot, enough to get high, but are the equivalent of the "having a glass of wine with dinner" crowd?

I would think if you need to get drunk, high, or anything else, every day (yes, even when in college...heck, even I took a night off from the bars), you may have a problem.  I mean, someone who has to eat a steak every day might have a problem...and not just health wise. And that's not illegal...it's delicious.  But a salad isn't a bad idea either.

Blue in Yarmouth

April 19th, 2012 at 8:12 AM ^

that my brother-in-law and sister have a problem. They spend more than $200 a week on pot and trust me when I say they can't afford that. They have three kids who often go without (not without the necessities of life, but without much more than that) because their parents can't kick the habbit. 

So yes, I agree with you that people that have to di it everyday do have a problem. 

I also laugh when I hear people say that it isn't addictive. I have seen first hand the effects of a person who has smoked weed for a long time and tried to give it up (my brother-in-law). I went to see him one day on my lunch break and he was curled up in a ball covered in sweat shaking and vomitting. He tried to convince me it was a stomach flu that just happened to coincide with him trying to give up pot, but miraculously, when he decided to have a joint (because that always helps when his stomach acts up) he feels better all of a sudden.


April 19th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

It's not necessarily addictive to everyone who uses it...heck, cigarettes and crack aren't for everyone, and they're a lot more addictive...but it CAN be addictive. Drug clinics are full of people who are addicts, and have taken alcohol and/or pot and become addicted to it.  Though the bigger problems usually lies when that leads to something else, too. (Though either of those drugs can be more than enough).


April 18th, 2012 at 2:47 PM ^

You sir have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Students at the University of Michigan are some of the friendliest to weed in the country, and yet we maintain our extremely high ranking and continue on to be active and non-worthless members of society.

Smoking weed does not equal worthless.

Being worthless may often result in smoking weed.

Correlation does not equal causation, blah blah blah.

P.S. Read over your posts. Your spelling is awful. Perhaps that's how you can determine someone is "worthless."

/rant over


April 18th, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

Part of it is a proof problem.

Alcohol disapates at the rate of an ounce per hour. Marijuana can stay in the system up to 30 days after the last usage.

Assume an athlete drinks and smoke marijuana on Friday night. Assume drug testing is done Monday morning. Alcohol would be out of the system on Monday morning, where as the marijuana would not be.

I don't want to read too much into your post, but if you are advocating treating alcohol the same as marijuana, it would require nightly testing. 

Blue in Yarmouth

April 18th, 2012 at 12:36 PM ^

You can debate whether or not weed should be legal, but at present it isn't. The fact that others have done it doesn't change the fact that it is illegal. Does the fact that many people steal make it right? Or the fact that there are numerous murders in the run of a year mean that eveyone should be able to do it if they want? I just don't understand your reasoning here.

I was young once and in my youth did a lot of things I probably shouldn't have. I used to smoke weed (and do a lot worse drugs as well) so it isn't like I am some guy straight laced person who never wants anyone to have fun. I just think the arguement that "lots of other people do it and they are all fine" is beyond weak. 

Again, whether pot should be legalizes is a valid debate and probably one worth having, but the fact that it isn't makes most of this discussion moot. It's illegal so they shouldn't be allowed to do it, regardless whether others do/have done it in the past.

I've never been one of DB's biggest fans, but this is a pretty solid decision IMHE.


April 18th, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

"Does the fact that many people steal make it right? Or the fact that there are numerous murders in the run of a year mean that eveyone should be able to do it if they want?"

The difference is that there are victims in your examples, so they aren't relevant to the discussion. There's no victim if someone smokes pot. It should be legal and the fact that it isn't doesn't make this discusion moot if we want to discuss it.

Blue in Yarmouth

April 18th, 2012 at 12:59 PM ^

ok....so speeding then, how about speeding? It's illegal, but since there isn't victims should people just get to decide they want to drive 180 if they feel like it with no reprecussions? 

You also missed my point. I clearly said that the debate as to whether or not weed should be legal is a good one, but as long as it isn't legal the discussion of whether or not people should be punished for doing it is moot, because the law is what counts. 

The law is what it is and if it changes then revisit your rules if you wish, but at this point in time smoking weed is illegal and players should be punished for doing it. As far as I'm concerned it isn't the fact that they smoked weed that's the problem, it's that they broke the law. 

Blue in Yarmouth

April 18th, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

on the institutions stance. I don't make the rules for universities but believe that it is in their best interest to make sure their athletes live within the confines of the law. I think it is reasonable to believe that all laws aren't equal and breaking some would carry more punishment than others. How a university decides to grade those laws would but up to the individual institution. I do think that players should be punished for breaking the law (whatever law it is). Suspended for speeding? No, I don't hink so for a first offense, but some form of punishment? yes, I do. I also believe those punishments should escalate if offenses continue. 


April 18th, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

If a player gets a ticket for doing 75 in a 65, no. If a player is arrested for doing 130 in a 35, yes.

Here's where the Ann-Arbor-Is-Pot-Friendly part comes in though. in Ann Arbor proper the fine for marijuana isn't a big deal, and it's a fine, just like a 10mph-over speeding ticket.

So I'm not sure that the weed vs. speeding anaolgy works, but I think depending on how egregious the offense, yes, someone could be suspended for speeding.

Ivan Karamazov

April 18th, 2012 at 1:14 PM ^

I completely agree with what is posted above.

At the current time its not about one's moral view of smoking weed, the fact remains that it is illegal (outside of medical usage). Therefore the policy stated by DB is completely viable under his duties as an athletic director.  If some day in the future marjuana is legalized and this policy is still in place then you can start grabbing the pitchforks and torches.  Until then it still is a priviledge for these student atheletes to play for Michigan, and as such thier conduct comes with a higher set of standards than the average college student.

MI Expat NY

April 18th, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

Marijuana is illegal (outside of medical usage).  Alcohol is illegal (unless the user is 21 or older).  It's all how you phrase it.  What about perscription drugs?  Illegal (unless you have a persciption).  Guns?  Illegal (unless you have a permit).  The list goes on and on.

I'm not making this point to say we shouldn't test for marijuana or suspend players for positive tests.  But using the illegal nature of marijuana as the basis for the suspension seems silly, especially when the analogous "crime" of underage drinking normally goes unpunished.

SirJack II

April 18th, 2012 at 12:55 PM ^

I'm sometimes surprised by how conservative and patriotic people are on this blog. I'm curious if this is representative of Michigan alumni as they age, or whether this can be attributed to the fact that this is for the most part a sports blog. Anyhow, when I was attending school at M, the student body seemed in general to be liberal, and certainly smoking pot was de facto legal.

Blue in Yarmouth

April 18th, 2012 at 1:05 PM ^

but this has nothing to do with patriotism, conservatism or liberalism...it is strictly about the law. If weed were legal I would say go ahead and fill your boots personally, while aknowledging the fact that a University should have the right to make rules more stringent than current laws for students they provide scholarships to for various reasons.

I can't say why the law is what it is. Personally the only thing I find wrong with smoking weed is that it is against the law, and my values and beliefs tell me breaking the law is wrong (full disclosure, it took me a long time to come to this point). 

Blue in Yarmouth

April 18th, 2012 at 1:43 PM ^

I didn't say that at all, but what I or you think about whether a law isn't what's in question. If it's a law I do my best to abide by it, whether I agree that the law has merits or not (this is something I didn't necessarily practice in my youth). Just because I obey the law doesn't make me thick headed nor does it mean I agree that it should be the law.


April 18th, 2012 at 5:01 PM ^

that you don't do anything to embarass the University including smoking weed or DUI, ect., and a set policy on the consequences. (Just like the ROTC scholarship I had.) You have three choices: don't accept the scholarship so you can be free to go untested and do what you please, accept the scholarship and take a risk at getting caught and suffering the consequences, accept the scholarship and follow the stated rules.

I don't see an issue here. The player is still free to make their own choice.



April 18th, 2012 at 1:10 PM ^

I'm sorry but if DB cracked down on all illegal activites, that would include underage drinking, and half of our underaged players would be ineligible. What do you think recruits do when they come here? If you remember the pic of Garnett when he was visting, there was a pic of him at the Heidleberg. I was there, the pic was taken at like 1 am,  what activities do you think he was partaking in?


April 18th, 2012 at 1:25 PM ^

= ALL athletes.

Or at least 95% of them.  Good luck fielding a team of people who don't break laws.  Your best-case scenario is being BYU (but, since we're a public school, without the religious association).  And even they struggle with discipline issues.


April 18th, 2012 at 11:55 AM ^

I think it's a good move, and I like the standardization.  Now someone just needs to remind me of this when I bitch and moan after some key player gets suspended for the biggest game of the year.

LSA Aught One

April 18th, 2012 at 12:05 PM ^

Dear FreddieMercuryHayes,

Pursuant to your post on eighteen April in the year two thousand twelve at eleven fifty-five eastern daylight time, you are not allowed to be pissed about the suspension of (insert player here).  At that time, you stated that enacting this new rule was a "good move" and furthermore that you "like the standardization."  This is your reminder to not "bitch and moan" as requested.

Best Regards,

LSA Aught One


April 18th, 2012 at 12:00 PM ^

The Bobby Bowden quote is ridiculous.

"I know of a lot of schools, and I don't want to say something I shouldn't say -- but you don't have to drug-test," he says. "If you don't want your boys to be caught with drugs, don't drug-test them."


April 18th, 2012 at 12:06 PM ^

Brandon's take makes sense. Plus, it's the law. 

But my question would be: How prevalent is pot use among certain player and specific sport populations and is it endemic everywhere? If so, long term, the policy is still going to be only partly effective.


April 18th, 2012 at 1:14 PM ^

Mandatory drug testing isn't the law for the vast majority of people. I coach a sport at the high school level. If a bag of weed falls out of their bag and I see it or I can tell they're stoned shit is going down. Parents will be involved, they'll probably be suspended from the team etc. I'm sure some of them do smoke pot and I bet I have a fair idea of which ones, but I have no interest in taking a proactive role in catching them unless I think they're in danger or abusing. Kids experiment in high school and college experiment. I don't think it's the ADs role to try and root this type of behavior out.


April 18th, 2012 at 1:47 PM ^

that testing was the law, just that pot is illegal so that tends to necessitate a tough stance. Appreciate the knowledgeable response, and tend to agree. I really think a lot of angry kids and kids under pressure pacify in a fairly constructive way with pot, that it helps them deal, so tend to be sympathetic when they get nailed. Part of that's the culture that comes with it. . . 


April 18th, 2012 at 12:06 PM ^

10% for first offense

33% for second

1 year suspension for 3rd.

Wow, that's harsh.  I thought all schools adhered to the "10 days in timeout" following a "driving while high/in possession of marijuana" bust.


April 18th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

Well.... 10% kind of is just about 10 days. It's basically one game, followed by 4 games followed by the whole season.

I'm sure this policy will deter some players, but there are plenty of other guys out there who might like Michigan more bc of it, not to mention their parents liking the policy as well. Nicely done DB.


April 18th, 2012 at 12:11 PM ^

drug testing was a standard thing in the NCAA. Sounds like they're screwing this up too. The NCAA should make a drug testing policy mandatory. Maybe they have a fear of what happened to MLB.


April 18th, 2012 at 12:57 PM ^

Why should drug testing for weed be centralized at the NCAA? I can see testing for HGH or steroids, as those provide competitive advantage, but there are a lot of things that are illegal and the NCAA has no policies regarding them. It should be up to each school to act as they see fit.


April 18th, 2012 at 12:19 PM ^

I know I am beating a dead horse.....but Saban's comments about how players are dismissed because an offense, and not subsequently educated, is not ironic at all. 

He doesn't want to dismiss guys (let's not kid ourselves, he is talking about his top guys) because of drug offenses but will dismiss a guy for no reason whatsoever.

P.S.: I don't think you should dismiss guys for weed violations....cocaine, meth, etc. is a different story.


April 18th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

But did you see how red Brandon's eyes were when he made those remarks? He was covered in Cheeto dust, too. 

In all seriousness, I can attest that I've "toked" with a number of Michigan's current and past players. It comes part and parcel with the house party culture, especially since underage athletes don't want to get caught at bars. These were legitimate skill players and starters. Didn't seem to hurt some of their performances... 

If you're a mature individual (which I'm sure plenty athletes are, though not all), you can juggle your responsibilities and the occasional illicit recreation. If you're me, you accidentally go to PolSci 300 with an eighth in your sling (separated shoulder) and sweat bullets for 50 minutes.  

I guess I'm fine with the policy because "it's the law," but those are some serious consequences. We live in Tree City, for Marley's sake. 


April 18th, 2012 at 12:41 PM ^

I went to school in SW Ohio where a MIP was a far worse offense then being caught with marijuana (amount considered personal use).  To be honest, I don't do it any more, but I truly have no problem with people enjoying it so long as it doesn't interfere with school or their sport. A certain QB at my school was a known user, and he seems to be doing fine in the NFL with his championship rings.  To each, his own.