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Sport Darren McCarty used to tamper with drug tests. Now his marijuana brand is on the market

18:52  02 july  2020
18:52  02 july  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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Drug tests were like a circus for former Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty during his playing days.

With cannabis in his system from the night before (smoking helped him sleep), he'd pass the random test through manipulation, or fail. He once used synthetic urine and broke the testing machine. That cost him a $20,000 fine from the NHL.

"That's just the way it is, bro," he said. "What are you gonna do? Life's about consequences — positive and negative. I'm the market. I'll go first because what's the worst thing that could happen? They kill me. But once they get by me, dude, you guys are on your own. I'm off to another place anyway."

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a man wearing sunglasses and a hat: Former Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty has created his own brand of medical marijuana products. © Pincanna Former Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty has created his own brand of medical marijuana products.

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He'd typically pass by tampering with the test, but he's not quite ready to give up those secrets from his playing days, which span from 1993 to 2009 and include four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings.

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What he will unveil, however, is the Darren McCarty Pucker Up pre-rolls. Featuring a 5-to-1 THC-to-CBD ratio, McCarty's brand of medical marijuana will be available for purchase at 10 a.m. Thursday at Pincanna, a dispensary in Kalkaska, Michigan.

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At some point, the product will be available at three other locations, ranging from the Bay City area to Negaunee in the Upper Peninsula. Ideas for the future include CBD and hemp products, new marijuana strains and a high-potency chocolate peanut-butter candy bar infused with marijuana.

"I love this plant," McCarty said. "When I retired, I took that Red Wing off and put the cannabis plant on the chest of my jersey. I will protect it as much as I protected any of my Red Wing teammates. It's just the right thing."

The © Tom Pidgeon, AP The "Brawl in Hockeytown" on March 26, 1997 at Joe Louis Arena is the signature moment of the bloody Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry that lasted for about a decade. Here, Darren McCarty punishes Claude Lemieux.

When he had a sports hernia in 1999, the doctor gave him pills for the pain, but it became tough for him to sleep. One night, he decided to smoke some weed.

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"My body was like, 'What the hell? Wait, hold on, somebody is lying to you,'" said McCarty, who was 27 at the time. "So the fact that I put my mind to something, then I got educated because it saved my life. I came to it later, but the education is there. It's always been there. I'm glad everybody's sort of catching up to the reality of it."

He went back and forth on how to utilize marijuana because it wasn't (and still isn't) allowed in the NHL. He didn't share it with his teammates, using it only when he was with a different group of friends outside of hockey, and also to help him sleep.

[ Sober again: 'This is a different Darren McCarty' ]

"I wasn't the weed warrior that I am now," he said. "Now I know the truth."

On Nov. 11, 2015, McCarty quit drinking alcohol after a near-death experience. He had been to rehab four times, spent more than $1 million on therapy, went through more substance-abuse programs than he can count, and believed his life was on the line.

Former Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty has created his own brand of medical marijuana products. © Pincanna Former Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty has created his own brand of medical marijuana products.

That's when he found cannabis. He hasn't consumed alcohol since.

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McCarty smokes every day. He takes CBD, hemp topicals and a couple of grams of weed each morning. Then, depending on what he has going on, he'll take an edible or smoke again. At night, he usually enjoys a pot brownie.

"I'm never high," he said. "I'm fully medicated."

As an advocate for marijuana legalization, McCarty wants NHL players to be able to use weed in certain situations rather than turn to pills or shots that could become addicting. He's calling for people to become educated about the benefits of marijuana, which he said includes healing of the body.

a group of people wearing costumes: Darren McCarty with his then 5-year-old son, Griffin on his shoulders raises the Stanley Cup during post game celebrations after their Game 5 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in 2002. © Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Darren McCarty with his then 5-year-old son, Griffin on his shoulders raises the Stanley Cup during post game celebrations after their Game 5 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in 2002.

Right now, all marijuana use, including medical, is illegal in 11 states. Marijuana is fully legal in 11 states, plus the District of Columbia.  Even the NFL has changed its marijuana testing policy.

McCarty used to stay quiet about his marijuana use, but he's now an advocate for its legalization across the board.

"I believe there's more people like me that have suffered for so long, so that's why having my own brand is so important," he said. "It gives me a bigger platform to talk about it. I'm not just talking about it, I am about it.

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"That's what I do. March 26, 1997. It's the same thing: vulnerable truth with integrity. Get on board. That's my march, and this is what I'm doing."

And if you remember March 26, 1997, then you know McCarty won that fight.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Darren McCarty used to tamper with drug tests. Now his marijuana brand is on the market

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