Ricky Williams’ Gold Leaf Deal Signals a New Era for Cannabis.
The former Dolphins legend talks about the NFL and the current Miami Dolphins.
November 13th, 2023
So first off, tell me about your company Highsman’s recent partnership with Gold Leaf and what that means for consumers?
Williams – It means that my name and my brand are going to be associated with a really powerful and quality experience. One of my goals is to go around the country and find motivating partners, which basically means I get to smoke the weed and say if it’s good enough…I’m joking, kind of… So, I do consume the product to make sure it’s up to par, but more importantly I spend time with the cultivators and get a sense of how they’re approaching the plant, what their philosophy is and what are their growing techniques.
I met the guys a couple of years ago, in Portland, Oregon and they gave me a couple of samples to try out and I remember going to go to a park in downtown Portland and pulling it out, rolling it up and sitting there and being like, “Oh, wow, this tastes so good.” I called them up right away and I said, “What are you guys doing that’s different, and they started laughing.” They walked me through their whole growing process and mentioned how they planned to expand in a couple of years to Florida and so I told them I wanted to join them in doing it.
Time passed and they finally got everything setup and running and we’re ready to go. Together our model has been to find the best people and add our name to it and get the word out. It’s great to come back to Florida where my cannabis story really unfolded and have such a high-quality partner with us. People can expect to get the best flour from Gold Leaf.
I read somewhere that it’s going to be distributed in 16 counties.
Williams – Yeah, those 16 counties in Florida really are just a starting point. They’re really doing it the best over there, but each state is different and often each municipality can decide whether they want medicinal cannabis or not. Gold Leaf’s presence with their vertically integrated product and solid delivery is only to get better as they grow from their one retail location. While we could’ve distributed much quicker and across other states, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night since I’d know that we weren’t putting out the best quality for the people. Quality is extremely important to us. What I’ve learned hanging around with farmers is that got to have patience, and you got to see the big picture, because the choices you make early in the plant’s life are going to show up later and if take it slowly with a lot of nurturing to the foundation, to the seedlings, you’re going to get really strong plants and really strong flour.
With all the changes over the years and the partial legalization of marijuana in some states, what’s your thoughts on why it hasn’t become legalized everywhere? What do you think the holdup is?
Williams – You just have to have patience. Something this massive will take time. If you think of the history of cannabis, at one point people associated cannabis with going to prison. So, to reverse that deep mental conditioning, that deep training, it just takes time. But, as we see it’s actually moving along pretty quickly, just last month or so the NCAA took candidates off their testing schedule, which is huge.
In the NBA and NFL, they’re not suspending players anymore. So, at least sports-wise, we’re starting to see the league catch up and realize this is not a drug, it’s really about allowing players to take care of themselves.
Yeah, I never understood how athletes like Nick Diaz in the UFC who had a long suspension for something he did as personal use vs people who harmed others, get basically the same punishment or possibly worse.
Williams – Yeah it gets looped up in the illegal drug conversation, but people forget what it actually is. I mean when compared to people having a drink, especially at these fancy events, many of them get drunk and act stupid, but when I smoke, I’m more in control of my actions. With that said, how is alcohol legal and marijuana isn’t? When I go sit outside on the porch smoking a joint, I’ll read and get philosophical. We’re all caught up in that same spell. It’s so silly. But thank God, things are changing and I’m so proud to be a part of the change.
I always found it funny too, because even again, with the whole UFC thing, they made it like Nick Diaz was using a performance enhancer. It’s mind boggling to me, what’s your thoughts?
Williams – Well, it’s an interesting conversation when we say performance enhancing, because when we’re thinking of natural herbs, they don’t really add anything to the body, they just send different messages to the body. So, it’s not like we’re taking something that unlocks something in a different way. If you meditate before a sporting event is that performance enhancing? It is, but our attitude about that is someone just took the time to sit and close their eyes. And meditation is hard… so, they earn it. But, if you think of someone who has to go to the dispensary and purchase the cannabis, they had to do something to get the work to get the money to go purchase it. So, in a sense, they had to earn it too. And I think we get so we get so caught up in judging people and trying to figure out what’s right or wrong that we get away from what’s actually effective. What I mean effective, like, I think of my kids, right? What do I want for my kids? I want my kids to be happy, so I don’t care how they do it. Whatever they do if it makes them happy, I’m all for it. I think if we have more of that sense about each other and about ourselves, I think we’ll all feel better.
With the advent of concussions and the long list of injuries in sports, do you have any reluctancy for your kids to play or do you just let them do it if they’re enjoying it?
Williams – If my kids are happy, then I tell them to go for it. I tried to talk to my 13-year-old to avoid playing football, but he wanted to play so I was like, okay, cool. But, I said, don’t complain, because if you’re going to play football, then be the one that the other people are complaining about. Just shut up and play. Allow the game to make you tougher and he has. So, I’ll give my advice, my two cents, but I’m not going to fight my kids. I’m not trying to steer them away, or whatever. As I told my son, “if you go out there and get your bell rung, you’re going to get hurt, but I don’t want to hear any complaint. He just smiled and said okay.
And just curious, staying on the sports side, what’s your thoughts on your old team, the Miami Dolphins?
Williams – They’re off to a good start, but older guys like us remember that back in the day, the Dolphins always used to start off fast, but had trouble maintaining their progress later in the season even as they got into the playoffs. It feels great that the team is on track to get back there, but what makes good teams great is their ability to gel and come together through the obstacles and the ups and downs of the season. I feel like we have a playoff team, but can they learn from the games where they play really good teams. If they do, and they come together, we got a potential Super Bowl team.
Do you ever feel like you came into the league at the wrong time considering how wide open it is now?
Williams – Yes and no, because that’s just the time I came in. I look at it this way, if you do something and you make a difference, then the nature of life is continuing to evolve. If we were doing it now as we’re older and wiser, we know more things, but the reality is when we were young, we were dumb, right? We’d still mess things up. That’s why I love to see former players like Antonio Pierce and Dion (Sanders) coaching since they could relate to the youth. There’s probably a little bit more of that camaraderie with your own coach, when it’s like you’ve been in the trenches, you know exactly what we’re feeling so. And it’s not just the theory of it, it’s that because they have been in the trenches, they know what we’re feeling, they act on it. A lot of coaches that haven’t played will make the claim they know it’s hard, but as a player we’re like, mentally, you know, it’s hard, but you don’t understand when to let up and let us recover.
And I’ve talked to players in the past and one of the things that often comes up that the casual fan doesn’t really understand is that they see an injury report, but they don’t really hear about the bruises, the aches and all that. It’s one of those that regardless of your underlying injury you’re expected to play at a high level.
Williams – Well, the reality is yes, that is the expectation. But that’s why the NFL is the NFL. It’s hard on our bodies, but it creates a really good product. As I’ve been told, the only day you’re ever going to be 100% is the first day of training camp. It just goes so fast.
Maybe if you had your cannabis product as the first connected with the NFL, maybe you guys could recover faster.
Williams – That’d be wonderful and I like to think the way that we do business and the way the message we put out into the world that it would resonate with the NFL. If you’re going to try to achieve greatness, it’s going to be really, really hard. You have to find a way to take care of yourself in a way to recover. I haven’t found anything that allows me to recover that supports me in recovering better physically, mentally and emotionally than cannabis. My best years came when I was able to recover through its use. It’s not an accident that people who knew me before I started consuming and people that know me after they’re like, “you’ve changed so much, you’ve grown up, you’ve matured, you’re so grounded.”
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