Former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason said Friday that medical marijuana saved him from a “downward spiral” after his ALS diagnosis. Friday marked the first time Gleason has ever spoken publicly about his use of the drug. He was testifying before the Medical Marijuana Commission set up by Louisiana Legislature.
A former special teams standout, Gleason was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2011 and entered the meeting room at the State Capitol in his motorized wheelchair—a result of the neuromuscular disease taking away his use of all muscle functions.
Speaking through a computer that tracks his eye movements, Gleason drew laughter when he began his testimony by pointing out how he came dressed in a “tuxedo,” which was actually just a tuxedo T-shirt. He cracked similar jokes throughout his speech but captivated the entire room when describing a dark point in his life in 2013. Doctors had recommended that he put a hospital bed in his home to sleep in and prescribed him medications for the pain and anxiety that accompanies the disease.