A high school football player planning to walk on at Auburn University in Alabama will lose his NCAA eligibility and be unable to play because he uses medical cannabis to combat his epileptic seizures, according to a report from WGXA-TV.
C.J. Harris, a senior, was diagnosed with epilepsy in his sophomore year at Warner Robins High School in the Georgia city. The teenager was experiencing seizures with increasing frequency and, after prescriptions had not helped, he tried cannabis oil at the recommendation of his doctor.
Harris said he has not suffered seizures since he began his marijuana-based regimen on Jan. 20, 2017.
Now, cannabis use stands in the way of the young athlete’s pursuit of playing college football, potentially forcing him to choose between his health and chasing his dreams.
After leading his team to the state championship game, Harris received a preferred walk-on offer from Auburn, the college team he always hoped to play on.
The offer was a dream come true. “When I read the text that one of the [Auburn] coaches sent me, I just, I broke down,” Harris told WGXA, a broadcaster in Macon, Georgia.”Because this is my dream, and I saw everything lining up perfectly for me.”
But after Auburn staff reviewed Harris’ medical records thoroughly, and finding out about the cannabis therapy, the team informed Harris and his family that he would be ineligible to compete at the NCAA level while he was using marijuana in any form.
“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” Harris’ father said. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”
While the CBD oil Harris uses to treat his epilepsy contains less than 0.3 percent THC, NCAA guidelines don’t allow for any of the psychoactive cannabinoid, even though other prominent sports organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency have removed CBD from their banned substances list.