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Matt Every Suspended From PGA Tour Due to Cannabis Use

By: | Mon 21 Oct 2019 | Comments

Matt Every has become the seventh player on the PGA Tour to be banned for drug abuse, and the most high profile since Vijay Singh, who threatened to sue the tour and had his ban rescinded. But there is more to this story than meets the eye. Every doesn’t take cannabis for fun, and if he had a chance to live without it then it’s fair to say he would jump at it. This is a top golfer who takes cannabis to help him deal with daily life.

Although the tour refused to give details, Every says he has been given a three-month ban for cannabis possession. But the irony is that he takes the drug on prescription to help him deal with mental health issues. He has never made any secret of his cannabis use and freely admitted the “offence”. 

“To be clear, I tested positive for cannabis, a drug I do not abuse and a drug that I have a legal prescription for in the state of Florida,” he said. Part of the problem for the golfer is the highly confused drugs policy in America. Cannabis use is legal is some states, illegal in others. And the PGA Tour has a zero tolerance policy. And that could create problems for Every going forward.

While Every is not remorseful or apologetic for the violation, and why should he be? He has admitted that he knew cannabis was a banned substance on the PGA Tour and accepts the ban. But at some point he is surely going to have to challenge the policy. It is clear that there need to be rules controlling the use of drugs in sport. Ben Johnson and Lance Armstrong tarnished athletics and cycling and caused irreparable damage to the point where we now struggle to believe the evidence of our own eyes. 

But the general feeling is that drug abuse is not a huge problem in professional golf. It is equally clear, however, that there needs to be some understanding of the issues that the 35-year-old has faced - problems he has had to deal with all of his life.

Every deserves credit for standing up and telling the world that he has mental health issues. The precise nature of those problems are nobody’s business but his own unless he chooses to reveal more in future. But the PGA Tour surely has a duty of care to its players. So are they going to test Every again in January when he is eligible to compete once more? If they do, he will fail and they will have to ban him again. Better, surely, for them to understand precisely why he takes cannabis, and to take the time and trouble to discover whether there are any other players out there who are dealing with similar issues.

He says that, with medical help, he has used cannabis to manage and help his mental health for three decades, insisting that he does not take it for recreational use. He has opted against other medication such as benzodiazepines or prescription “Z” class drugs because he claims they are addictive.

"For me, cannabis has proven to be, by far, the safest and most effective treatment. With that being said, I have no choice but to accept this suspension and move on. I knew what WADA's policy was and I violated it. I don't agree with it for many reasons, mainly for my overall well-being, but I'm excited for what lies ahead in my life and career.”

So far, there have been six other players that have been suspended as a result of the anti-doping policy, which originally was implemented in 2008. Singh was one of the others suspended, but he chose to sue the tour and his suspension was withdrawn as the case was settled before trial.

Every is the second player this year to be suspended for a drug of abuse, after Robert Garrigus was given a three-month suspension in March for using marijuana. A two-time winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Every has full playing status on the PGA Tour after ending last season 86th in the FedExCup standings, with the American starting this campaign with a tied-18th finish at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and a tied-28th finish at the Houston Open.

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Tags: PGA Tour FedEx Cup

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