The last career former pro wrestler Sean Morley expected to embrace after leaving the ring was “cannabis activist.” As a young man growing up in Canada, Morley – whobody-slammed under the name Val Venis for nearly 11 years as a WWE regular – was strongly against marijuana use.
That perspective changed after the long-time Valley resident watched many of his wrestling brethren become addicted to pharmaceutical drugs. Morley similarly flirted with addiction after developing a dependence on prescription pain pills while recovering from shoulder surgery. Then his close friend, WWE superstar Andrew “Test” Martin, died of an accidental overdose of oxycodone in 2009. It was a wake-up call for Morley.
“I was very anti-marijuana, but I was seeing how some guys were using it for medicinal reasons instead of pharmaceuticals and it wasn’t affecting their performance,” he says. “I tried to stop taking pills, but went into full-blown withdrawals, which were horrendous. I started to question the prohibitionist lies I was always taught about the effects of marijuana and saw how the reality was different.”
After further self-education, Morley made the leap and used cannabis medicinally to positively manage his withdrawals from pain pills. “I haven’t touched a pharmaceutical since then. Coincidentally, that was also the last day I picked up a beer.”
That experience changed the course of his life. Today, Morley uses his fame to speak about his disdain for government regulation of the growth, use and legalization of cannabis and hemp. “It is safe as a medicine and can be used for so many things, from something [as] simple as a headache to something major like epilepsy and cancer. The prohibition of cannabis is the biggest form of crony capitalism America has ever seen and it still exists today.”
In 2010, Morley lobbied hard for Proposition 203, which successfully legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in Arizona. Putting his money where his mouth is, he also invested in Health For Life (healthforlifearizona.com), which has two dispensaries in Mesa and sells cannabis- and hemp-based health, beauty and medicinal products. And he bid adieu to the moniker Val Venis and the character’s trademark bath towel to embrace a new alias: Kaptain Kannabis.
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