From 1989 to 2007, Cliff Robinson was a professional basketball player. Let that sink in for a second. Eighteen years. Eighteen years on the hardwood – including making two all-defensive teams in the latter half of your career – is nothing short of milestone in durability, tenacity, and good health, both mental and physical. How did do it? The answer: a life-long commitment to the game, extreme physical upkeep, drive, and just a little cannabis.
Throughout Robinson’s protracted career across five teams, marijuana has played a hidden, but controversial part of his game.
"We've always had a good relationship," he told Vice Sports. "It's always been a way to calm myself. Calm myself, calm my stomach. It's always been that calming influence in my life."
However, with a few cannabis arrests and several failed drug tests throughout his career, Cliff Robinson soon developed a quite a reputation off the court, going from “Uncle Cliffy” to “Uncle Spliffy” – a name Robinson now fully embraces. Now, after a decade of being off the court, Robinson is back in the spotlight.
After ignoring numerous business offers and opportunities since his retirement, back in October of 2015 Cliff staked his own claim in the burgeoning medical marijuana industry. He’s setting up shop as one of the first cannabis business to position itself for a new use: sports therapy.
Robinson’s company, Uncle Spliffy, seeks out to design therapeutic marijuana products for athletes – with remedies that include topical extracts and creams, all in hopes of stifling sport therapist’s over prescribing tendencies of pharmaceuticals for their injured athletes.
"There’s a lot of narcotics that are very addictive, and if you look at any pharmaceutical drug that’s being marketed on television, on the radio, or anything like that, they all come with multiple side effects." Robinson noted. "I think from that standpoint alone, we need to look into alternative means of treating different illnesses."
For now, the business is still in its early stages. Aside from a name, a position and a board of executives, Robinson is still laying the bricks of his future enterprise. Along with medicinal sports products, Robinson is also looking at ways to create and cater products to those whom share an active lifestyle. He is also been in touch with several renowned growers and is considering a tiered cannabis club in the future.
"For us, it’s really about doing it slow, eventually get to the grow, but we’re going to stay away from retail. We’re going to do topicals, extracts, and eventually a flower."
Robinson stated that tipping point for his decision to get into the industry came while he was n a suite for ex-players at the Blazers' home opener along with Michael Harper—a commissioner on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (the body that regulates the marijuana industry in the state}. He said it was there that his life-long passion for cannabis, the state’s newly legalized attitude, and his controversial “Uncle Spliffy” nickname all clicked at once – paving the way for his new venture.
In the meantime, Robinson will continue to speak at cannabis conventions and continue his advocacy, all in hopes of sparking a conversation with professional sports originations – all of whom still condemn the use of medicinal cannabis.
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