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Rob Sims and Calvin Johnson Pivot From the NFL to Cannabis


Rob Sims played nine seasons in the NFL as an offensive lineman, the first four with the Seattle Seahawks and the last five with the Detroit Lions. Sims was a fourth-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft at Ohio State University and played in 125 games, starting in 114 as a left guard before retiring in 2014.

During his Detroit days, Sims was also teammate with Calvin Johnson, the Hall of Famer who was arguably the best wide receiver of his generation. Sims and Johnson grew close during their time in Michigan, and after “Megatron” retired in 2015, the two teamed up for a cannabis-focused project for the second act of their careers. Former teammates have teamed up to preside primitivewhich markets itself as a “cannabis research company dedicated to compassionately serving medical marijuana patients across the United States.”

The power association company has a product, retail, dispensary and merchandise line headquartered in the company’s 12,000 square foot growing facility in Webberville, Michigan , but also seeks to make a difference with wellness, as well as research to help treat chronic conditions. traumatic encephalopathy (TEC) and cancer through institutions such as Harvard University.

A secret culture of cannabis in the NFL

“Similar to the NFL, I feel like the cannabis industry and opportunity found me,” Sims told Weedmaps News in an interview. “I used cannabis while playing to help with pain and anxiety. The NFL is a very demanding job. I thought it was a safer alternative to prescribed medications with opioids and muscle relaxants, things I really didn’t know much about. I haven’t seen any guys have pleasant experiences with it. An opioid epidemic broke out [in the NFL].

“On every team I’ve been on, whether it’s college or pro, there’s been a handful of guys who use cannabis instead of opioids. There’s always been a culture secret cannabis in the NFL that finally has the opportunity to be at the forefront. Now we can have a real dialogue and conversation around this. For us at Primitiv, we are focused on creating the cleanest and most responsible brand that could defend the NFL when it comes to the point [of cannabis adoption].”

Sims opted for plant power instead of opioids to manage pain after ripping a pectoral muscle from bone in 2008. Although he used cannabis, he was never disciplined for offenses related to cannabis.

“I had a choice between medicine and cannabis, and I chose cannabis and haven’t looked back since,” he said. “My wife, Natalie, suffered from Crohn’s disease, and I was also able to treat her with cannabis. [Using cannabis] became a part of our lives, and our appreciation for the factory led to business.

Sims and Johnson played five years together for the Lions and made two playoff appearances. Sims was a 16-game starter his entire tenure in Detroit, and he’s grown closer to Johnson as the wide receiver rewrote the record books.

“Calvin was always this humble guy in the locker room,” Sims said. “I grew attached to him from day one because of the way he conducted business. I knew what kind of guy he was. I knew his ways of playing football would translate into business – as far as perseverance and the pursuit of excellence. Just putting good days on good days. We have been in business together for more than four years, and it has been a great adventure. The future is bright for us.

Sims’ father, Robert Anderson “Mickey” Sims, was also an NFL player. As a second-generation NFL athlete, he was always interested in securing his second act in life once his playing career was over. After a business venture in real estate, Sims said Primitiv now sates his entrepreneurial appetite.

Changing the narrative around cannabis use

“Looking around I saw a lot of guys who didn’t have a plan, and I was one of them. As players, we’re conditioned to follow a plan rather than make one,” Sims said. “Primitiv is a brand that doesn’t just get high. We’ve used our play days and how we’ve been able to take care of our bodies and inject that message into our business where we have a pure, authentic story to tell. That benefits not only our business, but also our internal customers and our team. We are not only in the game of well-being, but quality of life. We put ourselves in the right places with the right people.

“Our thing is, ‘how do you change the stigma around cannabis and legitimize the industry?’

Much of our education is based on our research efforts. You have a lot of people selling, growing and processing cannabis. At the consumer level, there are many people who know it works for them, but we don’t know scientifically why it works for them. We want to be able to find that out and show the public how to get our message out to more people. »

Primitiv partnered with Harvard University’s International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute in 2019 to research the benefits of the plant and examine the best ways to deliver cannabis-based drugs to cancer cells in patients.

The research is led by Wilfred Ngwa, a cancer researcher who has worked with Harvard University and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Primitiv also aims to play a pivotal role in the treatment of neurodegenerative CTE, a debilitating disease that research shows is becoming increasingly prevalent among soccer players.

“We think of ourselves as savvy business people, but we still have a long way to go on the research side,” Sims said. “In order to bring our medicine to Harvard, we can come up with the best product.”

When not harvesting the nearly 100 pounds (45.4 kilograms) of flowers a week that reach Michigan dispensaries in Lansing and Niles, Sims and Johnson are also ambassadors for the Last Prisoner Project, a justice reform group criminal justice for cannabis-related offences.

“These kinds of initiatives are really important to us,” Sims said. “As minorities and African Americans, we have a duty to stand up for social equity, and part of our mission is to help those incarcerated. [due to cannabis use].”

Cannabis was not legal for adult use in Michigan until the law was overturned in 2018.

Fast forward four years later, and Detroit’s cannabis culture seems to be burning hot. Michigan native and basketball great Chris Webber was part of a $50 million investment to build a 180,000 square foot cannabis conservatory on former General Motors factory in southwest Detroit in September 2021.

Look forward

Sims says their goal over the next year is to focus on researching studied products at a variety of academic institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, and making studied cannabis accessible to the masses.

“Our brand is experiencing strong growth in Michigan. But our story is not yet completely told. We are still a young company. With the relationships we are able to build, it brings us more relationships. We have many doors opening,” Sims said.

“We had our chance with fame and fortune. Now we are just happy to serve people. We are for real. We are not a gimmick. We are not here today and gone tomorrow. We are here for the long term.





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