What's With the Sudden Mary Jane Fascination?

That was a question we were asked on Twitter, so here’s a response :)

So by now most folks have seen our most recent BJJ Poll, which asked How Much, If At All, Do You Mix Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Marijuana?. We will talk about this poll in Sunday’s episode of our humble BJJ radio show, The FightWorks Podcast, but I wanted to put something here on the website as well about the matter.

Luckily, I received this email this afternoon from an anonymous member of the Mighty 600,000 that serves as a great starting point:

Hey Caleb! This may be too late, I don’t know what your schedule is like putting the shows together. I saw your last tweet about cannabis use statistics and I just wanted to drop a quick line and urge you to approach how you report these next poll results carefully. I thought I heard you mention how you didn’t want to risk casting the sport in a bad light in your debate over the topic with Dan. Maybe I’m just putting unrelated actions together and I’m way off base, but just in case you’re planning on taking this angle I think it would be a bad idea to report something like “X% of BJJ athletes smoke, which is lower than the national average of Y%” in hopes that this would avoid casting a bad light on BJJ.

Basically I think you could run the risk of alienating a lot of listeners if they feel like they’re somehow getting accused of dragging jiu jitsu “down” somehow. I don’t want to get into some rant about my own feelings on cannabis use, but in this case I don’t really think that the poll really reveals anything one way or another that would say much about jiu jitsu.

For one thing, jiu jitsu is an almost an entirely amateur sport. There are pros, but with only a couple of exceptions they’re fighting in the same promotions that amateurs are fighting in. Even if there was good data on the number NBA players or other pros who’ve used cannabis, and of course there isn’t for obvious reasons, BJJ can’t really be compared in that sense since the vast majority of fighters are amateurs. A poll of the NBA wouldn’t be a poll of everyone who plays basketball in their spare time, and the people who play basketball in their spare time would never be accused of casting basketball in a bad light because of what they do off the court.

Also, this isn’t a poll of all BJJ fighters, it’s a poll of FightWorks podcast listeners. I don’t want to act like I know the exact demographic makeup of the Mighty 600,000 but it seems pretty reasonable to assume that it’s probably not a perfect cross section of jiu jitsu fighters. Plenty of other factors like someones income bracket or how much they tend to use the Internet and other technology affect who goes around downloading podcasts and voting on the web polls.

All I’m saying is that on this poll in particular I think it would be a good approach to just report the numbers and avoid any kind of statements that might give people the impression that the jiu jitsu community is “doing better” than the rest. This is just my opinion, and you’ve probably already through of most if not all of what I’ve said here. I just figured it made more sense to write than not.

That being said, I am glad you ran the poll. I think that more dialog is always a good thing. You can probably guess from the email that my vote on one of the “yes” categories. (Never before training though. As much as I love both of those things the idea of combining them seems pretty terrible.) There are just a lot of us out here who are hard working responsible people who choose something other than alcohol when we want to relax. No one is going to be happy to turn on their favorite podcast and feel like they’re getting blamed for ruining their favorite sport.

Anyway, thanks for running the poll and putting the show together. It’s a blast to listen to. I hope I haven’t assumed anything off base here or made you think that I expect you to get on a soapbox and judge everyone. This poll just stood out as one with a much higher potential to alienate listeners than most.

Cohost Dan and I actually recorded a segment discussing this topic for this Sunday’s show early this morning and although I can’t remember everything I said, I am pretty sure I do not make any value judgements on marijuana use. I do remember saying that the poll is no where near methodologically rigorous enough to call “scientifically sound” by any definition, so that’s certainly something we acknowledge. I definitely agree that the demographics of those who took the poll are probably different than the entire BJJ community.

Despite requests from listeners in the past to post a poll on jiu-jitsu and mary jane, I was against doing so because I wanted to avoid the possibility that some would regard our community negatively based on the numbers. In any case I want to thank Cohost Dan for prodding me into posting the poll. People seem happy to have a data point that, despite its shortcomings as an internet poll, is a data point.

And for what it’s worth, the numbers in our poll suggest 28% of respondents use marijuana. That is not far off from the numbers reported by NORML, a marijuana legalization organization. Is that good? Is that bad? I don’t know! And I certainly believe in “to each his own”, or as I once heard it said when I was living in Spain, “a cada cual su leche pascual“.

Anyhow, make sure you download this Sunday’s edition of The FightWorks Podcast to hear Dan and I go over this subject and as always, let us know in the comments below if you have any thoughts on the way we have covered it!

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