Former Detroit Lion wide receiver Calvin Johnson doesn’t have his head in the clouds when it comes to the marijuana business. The former All Pro football player is laser-focused about opening a pot dispensary in the state where he played, and was approved for a license to grow, process and sell medical marijuana in Webberville, a town about 70 miles from Detroit.

Don Nelson
Don Nelson is one of several former athletes and coaches who are using marijuana to deal with aches and pains from their playing days. (Image: Getty)

Johnson had applied for the permit in December and was initially denied because of unpaid parking tickets in Atlanta. That issue was taken care of, and his attorney, Michael Stein told the Detroit Free Press that he is ready to begin business.

“Calvin is grateful and looks forward to operating with his brand Primitive in this new venture,” Stein said. “He’s hoping to have a big presence in the state.”

Athletes Equal Business

Johnson won’t have to look far to drum up new business if he does open shop. Professional athletes, especially NBA and NFL players, are known to use marijuana, both medicinally and recreationally. Former New England tight end Martellus Bennett, who retired last year from the New England Patriots after 10 years in the NFL, estimated on a podcast earlier this year that more than 80 percent of football players indulge in the drug.

One of Johnson’s first customers might be Hall of Fame basketball coach Don Nelson. The Michigan native was at Thursday’s Golden State Warriors-Sacramento Kings game and was answering questions about what he has been doing since retirement.

“I’ve been smoking some pot,” Nelson said. “I never smoked when I played or coached so it’s new to me. I’m doing that and I’m having a pretty good time. It’s more legal now than it’s ever been, so I’m enjoying that.”

Nelson said he was introduced to the hippie lettuce by singer Willie Nelson when he was in Hawaii. Nelson has a medical marijuana card and has since moved to the islands where it is legal. He said it has helped him with aches and pains, and allows him to avoid pain pills. Nelson has even been growing plants, and was excited about a new strain he had created.

“Oh, it’s great. Great stuff. It’s called Nellie Kush,” Nelson said. “It’s O.G. and Hindu Kush. Hindu Kush is really good. It comes from India and the guy that brought it over mixed the two of them, so we’ve got Nellie Kush now.”

Growing Industry

Several former athletes are getting in on the blossoming marijuana business. Running back Ricky Williams, who was no stranger to failed drug tests during his playing days, said he was planning on getting in on the marijuana business, though there is a danger of him toking up all the profits.

Boxer Mike Tyson announced last year he was breaking ground in the Palm Springs area on a 412-acre resort that would be an entertainment complex and include a cannabis research and design facility.

Tyson is hosting a cannabis-friendly music festival entitled, “Kind Music Festival,” at his site on Saturday. The concert is being billed as a “Next generation of music festival, one that embraces cannabis as a legalized recreational product.”