Blunt Talk with David Ortiz

There are few accolades that David Ortiz hasn’t received in his professional baseball career. He’s won the World Series three times, been the World Series MVP and is a ten-time All Star and the sixth leading home run hitter in the history of the American League. In addition to what he does with his bat, Ortiz, known as Big Papí and hailing from the Dominican, is a charitable icon, who has raised millions of dollars for children both at home, in Boston, and around the world. David Ortiz also smokes weed. As the face and oftentime flower selector of Papi Cannabis, by Revolutionary Clinics, Ortiz is arguably the athlete of the highest stature to come out of the cannabis closet in support of the flower. Reached at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, Ortiz spoke with KIND editor Ben Kaplan about anxiety and stress, blunts and Scarface, and his belief that not only should no one be behind bars for cannabis, but that it should be allowed all over the world, and in all of the professional sports.
  • KIND: David, we were told about you and Papí Cannabis from our friend, Jose Bautista, who offered to put us in touch with you. How close are you with other people who play the game?

    David Ortiz: That’s my boy.

  • KIND: What is it between you guys that remains, even after retiring from the Show?

    DO: Me and Bautista, we were partners at Marucci, the bat company, but we were friends way before that. He’s a great guy and you know he loves business. He’s down for whatever.

  • KIND: But he doesn’t smoke weed.

    DO: He doesn’t. Someday maybe, we’ll see.

  • KIND: You’re speaking to a Canadian publication and that means Blue Jays fans. What was your response when the Red Sox came to Toronto?

    DO: Toronto is my favourite place to be.

  • KIND: Really? And you’ve been all over the world. Why Toronto?

    DO: I don’t know, man. The city is beautiful and the people are really beautiful up there, so nice. And everywhere I went I just got love, man. I always had a great time. Matter of fact, next year I’m going to come back in the summer. I’ve been busy with things and that shows because I haven’t been in TO as much as I like. Next summer I’ll be back.

  • KIND: In 2013, you hit a grand slam in game two of the Championship Series to take down the Tigers and you’d already been a World Series champion, but hadn’t yet scored the World Series MVP crown. After that hit, the Red Sox announcer said, "Ortiz is clutch. Maybe more clutch than any hitter in the game." Can you talk about stepping up in big moments?

    DO: I’m not afraid of anything. That takes the pressure off.

  • KIND: Roger Clemens? Roy Halladay? The psychopathic Red Sox fans?

    DO: Nothing. And when you have that mentality and you’re prepared you can do anything. But you want to know the secret?

  • KIND: Absolutely.

    DO: I took it personally when I got to the plate.

  • KIND: What do you mean?

    DO: Let me make it simple: When I was facing someone, I always thought I was better than him.

  • KIND: I love that.

    DO: In baseball, I got to play against a lot of guys. I give credit to the opposition. You mention Roy Halladay. He was the best pitcher that ever pitched for the Blue Jays. I had teammates that were like, Oh, shit. We have to deal with this guy.’ Let me tell you, Roy was one of the best pitchers I ever faced. But ‘oh shit’ wasn’t my mindset. My mindset was: ‘let’s go.’ You know what I’m saying? That’s the way I looked at everybody.

If I was home chilling, cannabis would get me off—time to sleep, big guy.
  • KIND: Like what?

    DO: Like when I step to the plate with my baseball bat I like my chances.

  • KIND: Baseball is obviously in the cannabis news because not only isn’t weed on Major League Baseball’s list of banned substances but now teams are even allowed to accept CBD sponsorships, which is huge. What do you think about baseball's policy towards weed?

    DO: Major League Baseball should let the players do what they want.

  • KIND: Smoke weed?

    DO: I believe weed should be legal everywhere in the world.

  • KIND: What about in baseball?

    DO: Cannabis has nothing to do with baseball. When it comes down to playing the game, when it’s time to perform? I don’t think there’s one athlete that’s going to go up there smoking cannabis. It doesn’t enhance performance. It only helps recovery and helps you relax and helps get you off that pharmaceutical shit.

  • KIND: The thought of facing a head high fastball inside after smoking a blunt is the stuff of nightmares.

    DO: You don’t want to face Roy Halladay high.

  • KIND: Who’s the best Major League Baseball player to get high with?

    DO: Rickey Henderson.

  • KIND: The worst?

    DO: I get along with everybody.

  • KIND: What’s your favourite stoner movie?

    DO: Ace Ventura. But Scarface is my favourite movie of all-time.

  • KIND: So why do you think professional athletes use weed?

    DO: For after the game. For all the pain and inflammation. Athletes dealt with their pain through alcohol, but cannabis is better than alcohol and professional sports leagues are taking note. Their stars are making them.

  • KIND: So many athletes used to have drinking problems. It just seemed like part of the culture of professional sports.

    DO: Alcohol affects your systems and corrupts your systems. Now, I like alcohol, but let me tell you—since I started smoking cannabis, I use alcohol less.

  • KIND: Talk to me about your relationship with weed.

    DO: It’s just a great type of feeling. You don’t have to rush it. Cannabis doesn’t make you aggressive, it’s more like you use cannabis and become aware of things. Totally the opposite of alcohol. Of course, not everyone functions the same way but I think almost everyone will notice a better type of feeling, and better behaviour, when you’re stoned and not drunk.

When I was facing someone, I always thought I was better than him.
  • KIND: I’m much, much better off stoned than drunk.

    DO: If you’re drunk, everyone runs away from you. They run to you if you have weed.

  • KIND: Can we talk a bit about the stigma of cannabis in sports?

    DO: I remember when Ricky Williams came out in the NFL back in the day and everyone made such a big deal, but I think lots of people in sports now know he was right.

  • KIND: We spoke to Ricky for this issue and he was super inspiring.

    DO: Everybody is different. I don’t need as much as some people. I’m busy all day but my pains are way better with cannabis, even just from inflammation and the running and when I use cannabis oils or gummies, you name it, there’s just so many ways cannabis helps.

  • KIND: So how do you incorporate cannabis into your day?

    DO: For me to do it during the day I need to know that my day is completely off from everything. Then I go out and smoke. But on a regular day, I like to do it at night when I’m chilling at home and hanging out with family. For me it’s the part of my day that gets me off of everything.

  • KIND: Gets you off of everything? You mean like stress?

    DO: Exactly. Releases stress. I have a lot going on and I’m the centre of my family. I have to deal with everybody’s situations and that’s not easy to do. I look forward to those breaks and let me give you an example—right now my dad is going through cancer.

  • KIND: Oh man, no. I’m so sorry. Fucking cancer seems to be coming for everyone.

    DO: Dad’s had prostate cancer for 20 years, but not too long ago, it spread. He’s going through chemo now—the thing he has to look forward to is edibles.

  • KIND: Was your dad always cool with you smoking pot?

    DO: Not at all. In the DR, weed is absolutely illegal and my dad was raised thinking that cannabis was just like any drug. But with this chemo, I got him taking edibles and now he says the edibles help him with the pain.

  • KIND: Are you noticing a difference?

    DO: Noticing a difference? He’s completely a different guy. I really think people should know that. People should be aware.

  • KIND: That’s why we’re making this issue. It takes Hall of Fame athletes and big-ticket performers and folks people admire to come out of the closet and tell people that weed doesn’t make you lazy. That weed doesn’t make you dumb.

    DO: I like natural things. I don’t like chemicals. And there’s something special about cannabis that works for athletes, the inflammation, the pain. That’s why you see athletes popping pills all day long but then, all of a sudden, you have inflammation on your liver because that’s what chemicals do. I went in for that, when I started, but not anymore. And I think a lot of athletes will do the same thing.

  • KIND: How’d you first start smoking pot?

    DO: I was in my 30s. A friend of mine living in the Dominican heard me complaining about pain and he said, man, you need to get into weed. I knew about weed because my ex-wife used to smoke when she was younger and when we first met and later on, after we got married she told me about it. I told her I wasn’t into it because of my dad, but when the pain started kicking in and I started puffing? It was a different game.

  • KIND: How so?

    DO: It eased the pain and my anxiety. Let me tell you a story about what happened in my career. If I was struggling, my anxiety would take over and if I was doing well, my anxiety would take over.

  • KIND: So it was impossible to find peace.

    DO: My mind wouldn’t shut down. If I was doing well, I wanted to continue memorizing what I was doing, that battle and anxiety of keeping it going. But if I was home chilling, some cannabis would get me off—time to sleep, big guy. That was what I used it for. And a lot of cream for the joints. That THC is unbelievable. It’s unreal.

  • KIND: I know with Rev you’re involved with the weed selection for Papi Cannabis. How do you work with your company?

    DO: Alex Pryor, their master grower, is my boy. He loves what he does. Loves growing flowers. He sings to them, and listens. I love that enthusiasm and I’m always in touch with him and see him whenever I’m back in Boston. I go to the grow room and I’m like a kid in the candy store. Alex is like, ‘Papi, check out this flower!’ He knows what I like and everything is beautiful.

  • KIND: It’s such a pleasure spending time with you. Bautista doesn’t smoke weed, but maybe I’ll buy him a beer (at least until he changes his mind). Last thing: tell us about your children’s charity.

    DO: I grew up with nothing, man. I come from nothing. And being able to give back to the community and help people is my biggest home run.

  • KIND: Bigger than that grandslam that sent you towards your second ring?

    DO: I brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people and helping the community is something that comes from God. God gives us the chance to help people—not for our own benefit, but for the opportunity to give back. And especially when it comes to helping children. My boy Jose Bautista supports me on that and we’ve had more than 10,000 kids benefit from our foundation.

  • KIND: It’s incredible. You guys are literally saving lives.

    DO: If I had to choose between that or baseball, I’d go with that. That’s what’s up.