It's the start of 2015, and for football fans, that can mean only one thing: the NFL playoffs are in full swing! Every detail of the eight remaining teams is under scrutiny by the pundits in the sports media. Are your players healthy? Are they performing at the top of their game? Can the coaches put them in the right position to win?
After last week’s Wild Card round, we're down to the top four teams in each conference. While the sports media debates who has the best ground game or the stingiest defense, we here at Leafly are picking our winners based on their hometown’s affinity and acceptance towards cannabis. So, let’s take a look at the match ups.
Baltimore at New England
The New England Patriots (the home team) represent the state of Massachusetts, which made great strides forward in cannabis reform when it approved medical marijuana in 2012. However, 3 years later we have yet to see a dispensary open its doors. In fact, the first dispensary was just issued a license to operate within the last week — talk about a false start!
On the other side of the ball, Maryland, from where the Baltimore Ravens hail, also approved cannabis for medical use in 2013. However, the system will not be operational until June 2015, which is too late to have any impact on our pick. The biggest win for cannabis in Maryland and in this matchup has been the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use, which went into effect in October 2014.
If Tom Brady and Joe Flacco were holding footballs, I’d be hard-pressed to go against Brady, one of the sport’s all-time greats, but if they were holding joints it would be Flacco and the Ravens moving on to the AFC Championship.
Cannabis Pick: Baltimore edges out New England
Indianapolis at Denver
In the football world this is a great matchup, pitting a legendary quarterback against his former team and the young gunslinger that is propelling the Colts back to title-contention. In the cannabis world, however, this would be a blowout of epic proportions. Indiana currently has no legal protection for cannabis use of any kind, medical or recreational, while Colorado has been leading the charge for legal cannabis in the US.
So, while Indiana gears up for a newly introduced senate bill to legalize production of cannabis and hemp, the dispensaries around Mile High Stadium in Denver are preparing for an influx of sales, including the fans who travel from Indiana for the game.
Cannabis Pick: Denver handily beats Indianapolis
Carolina at Seattle
North Carolina is home to the Panthers, but its doors have yet to open for public access to cannabis. A small number of trial participants have found legal protection by engaging in a trial study of CBD’s ability to combat epilepsy. However, the public at large is afforded no legal rights to consume cannabis in any capacity.
Luckily, this game is being played in Washington state, home of the defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks and a place that, along with Colorado, has been at the forefront of cannabis reform with legal access for both recreational and medical consumers. Like Denver, cannabis collectives near Seattle’s CenturyLink Field can count on a steady flow of sales over the weekend from both teams' fans, those who end up celebrating a crucial playoff win and those who need some help relaxing after a heartbreaking loss.
Cannabis Pick: Seattle over Carolina with ease
Dallas at Green Bay
This might be the closest matchup of the weekend. Neither Texas nor Wisconsin allows for recreational consumption of cannabis. Texas, however, has recently introduced a bill that would decriminalize responsible use by adults if passed. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has passed a limited law that allows individuals with seizure disorders protection from prosecution when using low-THC, high-CBD oil under the authorization of a physician.
Texas is making plans to introduce measures for both medical and recreational use, while Wisconsin’s representative Melissa Sargent previously introduced legislation geared towards legalization that the state failed to take action on. So, while both states have plans to move towards legalization, nothing will be in effect come game day. Therefore, I’ll have to side with the home team and their MVP-caliber quarterback.
Cannabis Pick: Green Bay sneaks by Dallas
Who are your picks to win this weekend? Share your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget to check out more state legalization info on our State of the Leaf interactive map.