Want to hear a who’s who of famous professional athletes, of celebrity sports stars who have dominated the sports world?

Let’s narrow such a list down to exceptional competitors that have more than being world championship caliber athletes in common, athletes who are headed to the Hall of fame in many cases in their individual sports. Let’s try a list filled with Randy Moss, Tim Lincecum, Le’Veon Bell, Michael Vick, Chris Webber and Mark Stepnoski. All exceptional sports stars, all dominating at their positions and in their leagues.

But why stop there?

How about Josh Gordon, Michael Phelps, Ricky Williams, Mario Chalmers, Nate Diaz of the UFC, and Abby Wambach from the dominating U.S. Women’s Olympic soccer team? The list goes on and on and on and could for a long time. So what, other than being exceptional world class athletes, do all of these sports stars have in common?

All of them are or have been marijuana users.

Absolutely all of these famous athletes were suspended by the NFL or MLB or the league they were in, or they were fined or ran into a problem with their sport’s drug policy or the legal system over marijuana use. Some simply admitted to using marijuana after their playing days, a violation that would have got them suspended when they were playing and could keep them out of their rightful place in the Hall of Fame. That in fact was the case for Mark Stepnoski, whose advocacy of marijuana legalization has caused him to be barred from his high school’s Hall of Fame in Pennsylvania, a State on the verge of legalizing marijuana.

So what is the big deal with marijuana use by professional and world championship caliber athletes in this day and age? No league, not the NFL or MLB or the NBA or the OIC test for alcohol use, and marijuana is healthier than alcohol, and it is legal for medicinal purposes in 24 states and the District of Columbia, with many more states likely to legalize soon.

So what is the argument against marijuana use by athletes? That it is a performance enhancing drug, that marijuana gives competitors an edge?

It is hard to believe that any major sport, be it the NFL or Olympic Committee or any other major sports governing body, could claim that marijuana use enhances a player’s performance. That’s just funny right there. Why would someone be charged for driving under the influence, or impaired driving, if they drive while under the effects of marijuana if it improved your focus and your wherewithal? Even in states where marijuana is legal, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, so that cannot be the answer. Sports regulating bodies cannot possibly confuse marijuana with steroids or human growth hormones or any other drug designed to give an athlete an edge.

So what is the NFL, the NBA, MLB, and every other major sports league’s problem with marijuana use by its athletes? Perhaps they punish for marijuana use because it is illegal? That can no longer be the answer in this day and age. Again, in half the country already medical marijuana use is legal with more states lining up to legalize marijuana use. Four states allow for recreational use of marijuana now, and again, more states are lining up to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

The fact is, major sports leagues like the NFL and MLB (which allows its players to use extremely unhealthy tobacco products) have antiquated marijuana rules attached to their drug policies, and it is time for a change. All major sports leagues should eliminate marijuana from its drug discipline programs. Josh Gordon, a young, Pro Bowl caliber receiver for the Cleveland Browns, is on the verge of losing his livelihood and has lost more than a year of productive playing time for simply using marijuana. Guys like Randy Moss, The “Honey Badger” TyrannMathieu and Randy Gregory have slipped many spots and even many rounds in the NFL draft because of their affiliation with the use of marijuana.

Slipping a spot in the first round can mean the difference in millions of dollars, slipping several rounds or out of the draft all together can mean many millions of dollars. At some point a disgruntled player or agent is going to sue a major sports league over income loss from using a drug, marijuana, which is legal in many states and in most countries around the world.

Forget that, think of the good marijuana can do for many of these athletes. There is a reason that marijuana, a non-performance enhancing drug, is legal for medicinal use in almost half the country already, because it is an effective and safe pain killer. Think of all the bumps and bruises Tom Brady, Bryce Harper, Lebron James, and pro fighters and hockey players around the world must endure during a long grueling, professional season. There are 162 games in an MLB season, 82 games in an NBA season and 16 hard hitting NFL games, plus pre-season and playoffs, in the NFL. Certainly the relaxing, pain killing, safe usage of marijuana can benefit the men and women who endure such long, intense seasons.

Perhaps it will take the suspension of a serious marquee player like a Peyton Manning or a Lebron James for leagues to recognize that marijuana doesn’t belong next to steroids on any sports league’s drug policy. Maybe it will take a lawsuit by someone who tests positive because they were around someone legally using marijuana, who knows? Whatever it takes, it is certainly time for the NFL and other major sports leagues to remove marijuana from its drug discipline programs.

Image credit: Espn.