Former national football league (NFL) quarterback Jake Plummer has seen the medicinal benefits of plants since growing up in Idaho. Now, he wants the world to take advantage of them to treat pain, inflammation and anxiety.
The 48-year-old Plummer, known as “Jake the Snake,” who played in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos, has pushed against the league’s cannabis prohibition and encouraged the NFL to conduct research on the benefits of the plant. While he’s an advocate for CBD, his focus these days has turned to growing mushrooms through his MyCOLove Farm in Colorado. With former Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) champion Rashad Evans, Plummer is also behind UMBO, a functional mushrooms supplement company that sells mushroom bars, capsules and other products. Del Jolly is the co-founder and CEO of UMBO. Plummer says his curiosity was piqued as a child with a holistic mom who adopted more natural forms of medicines during flu season, such as goldenseal and echinacea. If he got a cold, his mother would give him garlic and honey instead of Tylenol and other over-the-counter medicines.
“She taught us there was validity with plants, herbs and tea and all that,” Plummer says. “As I got into my playing career and looking back, I’m shocked there was no mention of that with any of the doctors and trainers. A lot of my teammates would freak out when my mom would send a comfrey pulposus for anybody who had a bad sprain. I’d go put it on their toe or ribs in the training room. Every single one of my injured teammates would say it felt so good and ask, ‘Could you send me more?’ Every single one.”
After his playing career, Plummer espoused CBD as a way to deal with pain instead of players taking painkillers, and he said hemp oil helped him along with many of his former teammates.
“That was my first play into plant medicine,” Plummer says. “As a football player, I knew the benefits of cannabis. I didn’t use it a lot because you could get caught and miss games. I’d use it when I could and after games for the pain-relieving properties and to let me drop into the moment with my family and friends on a Sunday night, maybe after a tough loss before I’m back in the office Monday getting my ass chewed for throwing a pick.”
Plummer says he only smoked cannabis at the end of his career. After retiring, he used it increasingly more, especially after getting surgery on his hips in Colorado. He says cannabis helped with pain management. And once he used hemp oil, his inflammation and headaches went away, he slept through the night and his body simply felt better.
“My real introduction into plant medicine happened when I met Del Jolly, and then Del and I, along with Rashad Evans, decided to jump into the functional mushrooms industry, which is an entire kingdom all to itself of fungi,” Plummer says. “It was another opportunity to shed light on nature and its healing ways and what better way to do it than with a UFC hall-of-famer, myself and other accomplished athletes, artists and activists trying to let people think there are other ways to heal yourself and other routes to find wellness.”
Plummer says he didn’t feel comfortable getting into the cannabis industry: “It’s a plant that many people around the world have used to help themselves with whatever remedy, or a form of income. It felt wrong to capitalize on the plant that’s been so good for us. I’m still a fan of it. I use it when I need to. I use it with a little more sacred thought behind it and ceremonial thought than as a daily use.”
However, the lingering stigma associated with cannabis is changing—largely because of the younger generation, according to the former star quarterback.
“More and more people are seeing the benefits,” he says. “You don’t have to get the psychotropic high. You can take hemp. Marijuana is starting to become more mainstream, and I don’t think people are going to abuse it as much as some other legal drugs, including alcohol—something used prolifically everywhere in front of kids and at football games.”
The younger generation may be more in line with Plummer’s view of the power of plant medicine.
“If you’re open to nature as a form of medicine, and if you’re in touch with Mother Earth and understand there’s a balance to everything—yin and yang, night and day and light and dark—that whatever we’re ailing from as humans, that there’s something on this planet to help that out. If you believe that, then I don’t think marijuana is misrepresented.”
By Plummer’s accounts, the NFL, even though it lessened testing protocol on cannabis, is one of those massive industries that won’t take a stand on anything that will divide their fan base. While the league donated $1 million to study the impact of cannabis and CBD on pain, Plummer calls that a pittance, adding that they should come to the table if executives are serious about saving their players’ mental, physical and spiritual health.
Plummer urges the league to invest money in studying the impact of functional mushrooms in helping brains heal as the league deals with CTE from repeated blows to the head.
“Let’s do some serious research here if you really care, and let’s back it up with money,” he says. “The NFL is literally worth billions and billions of dollars.
Plummer says there’s “definitely a connection” between cannabis and functional mushrooms and suggests there could be “some beautiful synergies” between those plants and what they can do for people’s health. After all, they both come from Mother Earth.
“Shouldn’t we see what’s out there to help us?” Plummer asks. A very good question indeed.
This story was originally published in issue 47 of the print edition of Cannabis Now.