C.J. Harris was supposed to be standing on the sidelines in an Auburn uniform come this fall. Now, thanks to the NCAA’s outdated guidelines on medicinal marijuana, he’ll watch his lifelong favorite team from the stands.
Harris, a starting safety for the Warner Robins High School team that won Georgia’s state title this past fall, was offered a preferred walk-on slot from Auburn. This meant that while the Tigers wouldn’t foot the bill for his tuition, he’d been noticed by Auburn coaches as a player whose talent might later allow him to work his way into a scholarship. At the very least, it was an acknowledgement that he would certainly be useful for their practice squad.
Any high school player would be glad to have this shot, but it was an astounding development for Harris, who has been dealing with serious epileptic seizures since middle school—as recently as 2016, he was dealing with them two or three times per month, according to the Ledger-Enquirer. That changed when he and his family discovered cannabis oil; not only did the treatments make the seizures subside, but unlike the pills his doctors previously had him on, the CBD oil—the stuff in weed that is used for medical purposes, and a substance distinct from THC, which is the part that gets you high—did not affect Harris’s personality or cause mood swings. After they checked with coaches at Lenoir-Rhyne and Auburn about any compliance issues with the NCAA, Harris and his family thought he’d have an opportunity to play in college.
But a report from WGXA revealed that after Harris submitted his medical records, Auburn coaches reneged on their offer, citing the NCAA’s restrictions on THC among athletes. Per the Macon Telegraph, the oil that Harris uses, Hailey’s Hope “contains less than 0.3 percent THC, according to the label.”
Harris’s story has previously been promoted by Georgia politicians hoping to push forward legislation that modernizes the state’s cannabis laws as it relates to medical treatment. Neither Harris or his family have ever been shy about sharing his condition; they have made their case with the media, legislators, and Auburn coaches. But now, because of both NCAA stupidity and the university’s unwillingness to fight the NCAA on the matter, Harris will instead have to attend a junior college or NAIA program should he want to continue his football career.
It’s a sad day when a Georgia Republican is markedly more progressive than the NCAA, but so goes dealing with the unending idiocy in college sports.