You Can Smoke a Joint in St. Louis, Just Not in a Baseball Uniform

Scrolling down my timeline today, I saw a tweet from a baseball player I didn’t know, publicly apologizing to his organization and accepting the 50-game suspension they had given him. He wasn’t caught using PEDs – my first thought when I started reading. Nor did he become the 10th player suspended under the domestic violence policy MLB established 3 years ago.

He was suspended for using cannabis.

The player is Griffin Roberts: a 22-year-old pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization and the 43rd overall pick from this year’s draft. Roberts has only played in 8 professional games thus far. He’s not on any top prospect lists. He only has a little over 1,000 followers on Twitter. But his apology – the only original thing he’s tweeted on his account in over 2 years – sparked hundreds of reactions similar to the one I had upon reading it: “Wait, what?”

Yup. That’s right. He was suspended 50 games because he wanted to relax and smoke some weed in-between the incredibly demanding year-round training required of a minor league baseball player.

I’m not gonna get into the medical effects of cannabis, the history behind its prohibition here, comparisons to substances from both sides of the pharmacy counter, or the US prison complex built from the war on drugs. You’ve got Google, and if you don’t know about these things, I encourage you to research them.

My issue here? The hypocrisy. Since 2014, Missouri is one of 23 states (plus DC) where recreational cannabis is either decriminalized or full-on legalized. Yes, that Missouri – the same state in which the St. Louis Cardinals play their home games. In fact, the Cards are 1 of 24 MLB teams which operate in jurisdictions where cannabis use isn’t a crime at the state and/or local level.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, they gave him a 50-game suspension. Fifty games. Aroldis Chapman and Addison Russell got 30 and 40 games, respectively, for domestic abuse violations. Jose Reyes only got a game more than Roberts did for allegedly choking his wife and throwing her into a glass door. In what universe are these things, in any way comparable?

Roberts’ subsequent tweet, sent 4 minutes after his apology, nicely sums up the ridiculousness of the situation. I don’t know if he was commenting on cannabis decriminalization, or DV suspensions, or simply the fact that MLB players don’t get screened for “drugs of abuse” the same way minor leaguers do.

What I do know is that MLB needs to step in and change this policy immediately – it’s laughably hypocritical for a myriad of reasons. Minor league players get treated poorly enough as it is, and they shouldn’t have to be dealing with this nonsense as well.

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