05/13/18 Riley Cote

Century of Lies
Riley Cote

This week we come to you live from the Patients Out of Time Twelfth National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, and hear from Riley Cote, a retired professional hockey player who's a medical cannabis activist and co-founder of Athletes for Care.

Audio file



MAY 13, 2018

DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors, and millions more now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century Of Lies.

DOUG MCVAY: Welcome to Century Of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, and we're coming to you live from the Patients Out of Time conference in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Coming to you live from the Patients Out of Time conference in Jersey City, New Jersey. Full disclosure: I work for Patients Out of Time doing web and social media. Now that that's out of the way, I'm standing here with their chief operating officer, Laramie Silber. She's also the convention manager, and she's taken a couple of seconds just to chat with me for a second.

Laramie, how's the conference going?

LARAMIE SILBER: Hi Doug. It's going really great. This is our last day, we had some walk-in registrations at the desk, people who had just heard about it and were excited to come, share information.

And Melanie Dreher actually just walked in the door, who is going to be on our last panel today, talking about how healthcare professionals need to really step up and advocate for their patients, so I'm excited for that one, we're going to end on a real high note -- no puns intended.

DOUG MCVAY: I'm glad to hear that Doctor Dreher showed up, I'm hoping I can get an interview with her before the end of the day, she's so cool, and many years she spent at Iowa, where I'm from.

So, what's been the highlight for you, I know it's the last day so there's still some stuff to come, but so far, what's been the highlight?

LARAMIE SILBER: That's really hard to pick. The Thursday policy workshop was, I think, the best we've ever put on. New Jersey is in a real transition moment, going from an unsupportive administration to full 180 and we want to make sure we do it right here. And Patients Out of Time is pleased to be supporting the legislators and advocates in knowing what's been going on in other states.

DOUG MCVAY: Terrific. I know that you -- yeah, okeh, enough people are trying to get your attention now, I think I need to thank you for being on the show, and good luck with the rest of the conference.

LARAMIE SILBER: Thank you, Doug.

DOUG MCVAY: The other thing I've got to say is that, I do know enough about hockey and about sports to know that you were a -- you were a really good professional, and what you're doing now is, I think, exceptional, because you're using that stature, you're using that, that position, I mean, we -- we hold athletes on a real pedestal, and, for you to come forward and speak out about something that's controversial, and, yet, is ….

It's controversial and yet it's benign, I mean, medical cannabis is such a, is such an obvious thing, there should not be a reason for it to be controversial, and yet it is, and it has -- I've been doing this for a long time, and people told me that it took guts to speak out, back in those days, and, whatever, I was just a kid, and nowadays, it's, you know, it's less so, but it is still. And yet it still take guts to do that kind of stuff.

And, I mean, you could be -- you could be in retirement selling insurance, selling cars, selling any -- selling houses, doing any kind of thing that fame would allow you to do, and instead, you're using your fame, and your stature, you're using that to promote some good work. And I think that is just exceptional, I think that's tremendous.

It is an absolute pleasure to be sitting here and speaking with you. And, listeners, the gentleman with me here is Riley Cote, he is a retired hockey player, you were with the Philadelphia Flyers?


DOUG MCVAY: For a time? I lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for a while, so, hey, Philly. Right on. And, so, tell me about yourself.

RILEY COTE: Yeah, well, I'm from Winnipeg, Manitoba, grew up, born and raised in Winnipeg. Played, you know, my youth hockey in Winnipeg, was able to move on to the junior ranks, and moved away when I was 16 years old to the Western Hockey League.

I was never drafted, so when I turned pro at the age of 20, I decided to take on a different type of role within the hockey game, and that was the enforcer role, actually being more of a physical presence, being -- getting on the body, but ultimately, you know, answering the bell and fighting, within the hockey game. Everyone kind of knows hockey for its hockey fights, and, you know, I was one of those guys, fighting 30, 35 times a year, so, that was, you know, the direction I chose, because I thought it was the easiest way for me to really carve out an identity, and find, you know, my niche and just kind of find myself within the team.

You know, I was going up against the best goal scorers in the world. I put up some decent numbers in junior, but, again, I wasn't a highly offensive guy in the grand scheme of the best players in the world, so, you know, the path I chose was fighting.

And, you know, I had been introduced to cannabis at a young age, you know, 15, in very recreational settings, but it wasn't until I really turned pro, when I started fighting on a regular basis, that the, you know, the daily anxieties increased, because now I was getting paid to play hockey, the, you know, performance anxiety, but then on top of that, the anxiety of fighting, you know, was cranked to the roof, so, you know, cannabis ended up being a huge therapeutic tool for me.

You know, not only just for the anxiety, but for the pain post-game, and the, you know, the inflammation, and I learned about the science in the back end of it, but the anti-inflammatory properties just, you know, the state of relaxation and calming the nervous system and promoting rest.

So that was huge for me, and, you know, every team in every league I played in, there was always a group of guys that, you know, would consume cannabis. Obviously quietly, amongst a, you know, a small group, you know, we didn't really talk about it in the locker room.

So, whether I was in the Central Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League, American Hockey League, or ultimately when I ended up making the NHL, there's always a group of guys, and there was always guys doing it, so I, you know, I ended up using that as an ally, and a, you know, as a healing tool, not knowing, you know, how much of a healing tool, you know, that it was at the time, because I was still, you know, still recreationally drinking, and probably drinking, you know, too much.

But it wasn't until I made the NHL, when I started traveling via plane, when I started, you know, leaving my cannabis behind, because of obvious reasons of losing my job, I didn't want to screw around with the border. It was then when I kind of got swallowed up in the, you know, toxic cycle of just managing, you know, your aches and pains with opioids, and sleeping pills, and, you know, kind of managing the recovery process unsustainably.

So, at the age of 27, you know, the physical body was starting to break down, and I was averaging about a surgery a year, and, you know, at the age of 28 I ended up retiring. I had one more year in my NHL contract, my physical body was completely, you know, mangled, my performance had dropped, you know, again, I really attribute that to just, you know, managing everything unsustainably.

I ended up having a job -- offered a job coaching the Philadelphia Flyers minor league team, so I, you know hopped on that opportunity because it gave me an opportunity to kind of escape the physical abuse I was putting my body through, but, you know, also to give myself an opportunity to find myself and find a healing state.

It was that last year, when I started kind of transitioning my diet and my way of life, but mainly my diet, from, you know, from high amounts of animal protein. You know, we're consumed with the idea of consuming protein, and a lot of it was whey protein, which is an isolate, basically the remnants of the cheese industry that's ground up into powder and we're consuming this thinking that we're, you know, gaining muscle and increasing performance.

Well, I learned that not to be true, and started finding digestible protein sources like hemp seeds, and started learning about the cannabis plant as a whole, you know, starting from a food source, and started learning about other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, the other ones you consume with the, you know, not just the THC molecule, but learning the properties of, you know, these other cannabinoids, and learning the, you know, about the neuroprotective properties of some of these cannabinoids.

And, you know, looking back on my career and seeing I've been punched in the face over a thousand times, been in over 250 pro fights, and, you know, maybe the cannabis use was, you know, protecting my brain and helping with the mental health long term. And I started, you know, now I started ingesting cannabinoids derived from industrial hemp consciously, you know, full spectrum CBD, just to kind of get, you know, get -- just activate the endocannabinoid system a little bit more consciously.

And, you know, making it part of my daily regiminen. You know, I look at cannabis as a preventative tool. It should be a daily dietary essential, and that was when I really started having this passion for cannabis as a whole. And so it's much bigger than just, like, everyone just wants to call it medicine, and I think it's much bigger than that, you know. I think we don't need to get in some of these disease states that we're in, and currently facing, to have or to seek cannabis. I think it should be part of our diets already, small, small dosages.

If you don't even want to get into the THC, you don't have to. I mean, there's all kinds of benefits of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, but, my point being, it's just really taking ownership of our health, and just getting back to basics and getting back to mother nature. And, you know, the hemp and cannabis thing has been a huge, huge part of my life. I coached seven years in the minor leagues, and I put myself out there enough publicly where I lost my job because of it.

But, I needed that to happen, because I was so, so passionate about this, and, you know, have so much fire, you know, with getting this message out there. But, now I just really try and mainstream cannabinoids, cannabinoids usage, preventative medicine through cannabinoids, through sports.

And I know a ton of guys that I played with and against that struggle with substance abuse, addiction, alcohol and opioid, lack of purpose and identity, and, you know, I just want to help them find themselves, introduce them to a healing tool, like cannabis and hemp derived cannabinoids, but also, you know, giving them, and introducing them to a possible new sector of their life, and identity, giving these guys an opportunity, something to grab onto. It's about giving back, and paying it forward.

So I think giving back to the community, and telling your story, and connecting with people, you know, it's very real stuff. And a lot of these guys, again, the ego has been their driver their whole life. They've been an athlete, everyone's known them for their job, but not necessarily about who they are inside, and I think once you retire from a sport, it's very challenging for a lot of guys, because they don't know who they are. Do you know what I mean?

So I think cannabis is a connector plant, and it offers not only, you know, healing, physical healing, mental health healing, but, you know, connection, and community, and giving back and, you know, spreading the good word, and all that good stuff.

So Athletes For Care is an organization I helped co-found, and really, again, just normalizing cannabinoids through sports. But it's not selfishly just worrying about athletes. it's really trying to, you know, normalize the message with guys putting themselves out there talking about their experiences, backing them up with science, and then, you know, people can relate to the stories a lot more, you know, when it's backed up in the name of medicine and the medical field.

So, that's where I'm at today, and that's why I'm here today, is just to kind of talk about my story a little bit, and how cannabis saved my life.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. And of course, we are here at the Patients Out of Time 2018, the Twelfth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. Cannabis: Relieves Pain, Treats Addiction, and I need to mention that, for full disclosure, that I do work for Patients Out of Time doing web and social media.

And, you said selfish, because, you know, it's centered on athletes, and obviously it affects other people, but, athletes -- we demand so much. We -- you're our entertainers, you're the people who, I mean, you know, you go out into the coliseum and you fight, you know, and the bears and the lions and the tigers and the -- other sports team names, but, you know -- interesting sidenote: gladiators were vegan. Interesting stuff. [sic: prior to the start of the recording, Doug had been making a comparison between professional athletes and Roman gladiators.]

But, I mean, we make you, we demand so much, we demand, oh, hurt yourselves more, we want to see something break, and it's messed up. But you guys, you guys do this thing, and you hurt yourselves on a daily basis, and, I mean, I don't know, started going off track there.

But, I think it's great that you're doing this, because, we push you guys to hurt yourselves badly, and then we have rules that say you have to use dangerous chemicals to try and make yourself healthy, and to get back out there and to keep hurting yourselves again, and, you know, I think it's great. I think it's quite noble. I mean, you're right, the whole population can learn from this stuff, but, you're an elite group of people, and, you know, it's messed up what we do. I think it's messed up what we do to you.

It's -- so anyway. Athletes For Care. Tell me a little more about that, because that's a, I've seen some of the stuff, I follow several of you folks on Twitter, and we've, you know, we've been talking about this because cannabis and the healing properties, especially with the concussions and all that that people are getting. But, tell me about Athletes For Care for a minute.

RILEY COTE: Yeah, just to build off what I was talking about earlier is, is Athletes For Care was designed to be a platform, kind of like a players association, in a sense, for alternative medicine and alternative healing, so, giving guys the resources that they're not being given by their teams, or the players associations, so cannabis being the obvious one, you know, the cat's out of the bag, it's a healing tool, it's a recovery tool, it's almost a god-send from an athlete's perspective.

But, you know, giving guys the education and guys, you know, opening the door to these alternatives. Again, a lot of these guys are well versed in, say, just, you know, mainstream cannabis, but a lot of these guys are not well versed, you know what I mean? There's a lot of old thinking that, you know, cannabis is this schedule one, and well it is, that it's lumped in there with all these other hard drugs, and people can't wrap their heads around the fact that it could be different.

So, you know, changing public perception with these, some of these alumni guys, but really just trying to give these guys a tool, again not only for their physical pain, because a lot of these guys leave the game with a surgery, and they leave the game with, you know, with a banged up physical body, and on top of that, a lot of these guys leave the game with some sort of mental health issue.

Again, they're -- they pound the alcohol, they're left with prescription drugs, opioids and sleeping pills and the rest of it, and then they're sitting at home trying to figure themselves out. Where do I fit in? What am I? What is my identity, what is my purpose, and I think that's -- those are tough questions to ask a very, you know, ego-driven human being that's been, you know, glorified for their entertainment value on the ice.

And going back to what you were saying earlier, is, just to kind of get off the topic just a little bit here, is that, you know, the fans -- the fans pay for our, you know, basically pay our contracts. They deserve, and they're expecting, entertainment. And no one forced me to go out there and fight the lion and the bear. I chose that, it was a dream of mine to play in the NHL, it just happened to be that I -- that was the only way I could make the NHL, was to fight the lion and the bear.

I mean, you know, at the time, you're a mindless warrior, and then, you realize along the way that what you're doing is very unsustainable, and there's a price to pay. But again, that's ego. You know what I mean? It was, I mean, for me, that was ego. And, but you live and you learn, and then you come back to me retiring at the age of 28, I had a lot of questions.

So, you know, the Athletes For Care program is really being a platform for the transition, the transitioning out of the game, and transitioning out with sustainable tools, and cannabis, and normalizing cannabis through sports, and you know, having this conversation.

We really got into it on these panel discussions at these types of events. Four years ago, with a bunch of other athletes, and it was always the same thing, just, a different story, you know? A football player, a UFC fighter, and a hockey player, and it's like, well, you have your cannabis story, I have my cannabis story. We needed to make a routine of this, and create panels and go around almost like a tour, and have, you know, a scientific backed approach to it, with a medical doctor or researcher, and make a thing of it.

So that was what we decided to do. We kind of went on tour, and started preaching the good word, and it's kind of grown legs and momentum, and, you know what I mean? Again, you say, for whatever reason, people look up to the athlete as the new age gladiator, in a sense, especially, you know, contact sports, and people demand entertainment, they pay a lot of money to watch these sports, so, they look up to athletes.

And, you know, when you listen to a real message, and it's about pain, it's about anxiety, and it's about drug abuse and substance abuse and all this stuff, the average person connects with it, because what I've learned in this space is that, no matter where you are on the map, everyone suffers from the same emotions. Anxiety's anxiety, whether it's self-inflicted or not. Pain is pain. A sleep issue's a sleep issue. You know?

So everyone is struggling, and everyone needs a sustainable tool to manage these things, and cannabis is that tool. I've lived it, I can assure you of that, and, you know, the science is just overwhelmingly backing up my belief system, so I can stand firm on my, you know, my belief system with, you know, Athletes For Care, and stand proud when I talk about cannabinoids in sports.

You know, we're getting into some research, some CTE stuff [Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy], you know, the brain, I mean, it's a huge, huge, huge topic right now. But just, you know, mainstreaming and normalizing science through sports and using some of these alumni players as, I don't want to call them guinea pigs, but, yeah, I mean, get these guys on some, you know, cannabis, in different delivery methods, and get them on -- get some data collected. You know what I mean? Get in them in part of these clinical trials that some of these states are trying to implement, and that's the plan, you know.

I mean it's slow, it's slow moving, but, we're moving, and things are changing. And, you know, the cat's out of the bag, but now it's just trying to mainstream it, you know, and cannabis in sports was once an oxymoron, but now, all the science connects them both together, like, so perfectly.

Because cannabis is recovery, and if you want to use the word recovery or you just want to use healing, it's all the same. Everyone's got to calm the nervous system, everyone's got to manage their stressors and anxiety, everyone's got to manage pain sustainably, and everyone's got to sleep.

If you do those things right, you wake up in the morning feeling pretty damn good. But if you screw around with that cycle, especially the sleep, the pain's enhanced, the inflammation's enhanced, the anxiety's enhanced. And then depression kicks in, and then mental health kicks in, and it's hard to keep up, and then we're over-consuming caffeine, and we're over-consuming alcohol, and we're just medicating unsustainably.

So I think there's the cycle and the culture of life, and society, and, you know, specifically in hockey, it's just about, you know, managing your pain unsustainably. It's alcohol, you know, alcohol and opioids and sleeping pills, so it's just -- you can't go very long doing that. You know what I mean?

In this business of sports, especially from a management standpoint, depending on how long you sign your player for, but you're only expecting him to be the best that he can be for that short amount of period. After that, they don't give two rat's asses about you. You know what I mean? You're on your own, out of sight out of mind. You don't have to worry about those health issues anymore.

So, again, in sports, it's not taught to manage everything sustainably. But that's what we're trying to teach with Athletes For Care, and just giving these guys a sustainable tool, a non-addictive tool, and, above and beyond that, introducing them to meditation and yoga, and, you know, diet, you know, nutritional healing, stuff like that, a lot of stuff they've never been taught.

Again, going back to the ego, a lot of these guys are egomaniacs, and now, they're connection is severed because no one cares who they are or what they're doing, because they're not in the limelight. So you have to find yourself, you have to reconnect, and meditation is a huge connection tool, yoga, you know, for the physical body, you know, just kind of reversing the tense, tight muscles that we've, you know, created over the years, but, again, breathing, meditative state of yoga, that whole bit, and just connection.

I mean, it's all about connection, purpose, and identity. That's what Athletes For Care offers, you know, for all the players.

DOUG MCVAY: I think you're doing great work, and as I say, it's -- you could be out there trying to sell, you could use the fame, you could use the background to sell any number of things. I mean, that's what we do -- that's what professional athletes do, is, you know, we expect them, okeh, now, you're no longer entertaining us on the field, so you're entertaining us on our TV sets with the commercials, or maybe in the newspapers or the tabloids with the parties and that stuff, because we, you know, you're not out there killing yourself on the field anymore, so we need you out there killing yourself in the public eye.

And, that's, yeah, not exactly -- it's -- we're a messed up society. We really are, we really are. So, yeah. This thing's getting ready to start up again, and you should -- and I've been monopolizing your time for quite a while, I'm enjoying it. Well, thank you. So, yeah, this is for a show Century of Lies, which, I may as well mention:

You're listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network on the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.Net. I'm your host Doug McVay, and I'm speaking with Riley Cote, a retired hockey player, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, and a co-founder of a group called Athletes For Care.

This conference was held at the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theater, which is a magnificent movie palace that was constructed one month before the stock market crash in 1929. It is a beautiful, beautiful theater that is being restored to its original glory. Massive marble columns, very ornate drapes and decorations.

Standing here in the middle of the lobby, it is just a thrill. The theater is a nonprofit. They do have a website, which I hope folks will check out: That's

And again, folks, I'm speaking with Riley Cote -- Riley Cote. I can talk. It's been a long day. And, as you can probably hear from the sound in the background, the Patients Out of Time conference is about to begin its reception. You'll be speaking in a few minutes at this thing, I guess, you're saying something somewhere. Here.

RILEY COTE: Hopefully I didn't use all my ammo here.

DOUG MCVAY: This was just a warm-up.

RILEY COTE: Yeah, yeah, exactly, get me on my soapbox, here, getting going. So, no, it should be good, yeah, I'm going to be kind of regurgitating the same kind of story I'm telling you here, so, just, you know, my experience, you know, growing up, introduced to cannabis at a young age, and how it's, you know, the mindset's evolved from a, you know, recreational setting type of thing to a very therapeutic healing thing, and then fast forward post-career like really understanding the science behind it, and kind of connecting all the dots and making this thing a full package, you know, full package for me to promote and to stand behind, you know, from an advocacy standpoint, but also from a business standpoint.

I mean, if you can integrate passion and business together, to me, it doesn't seem like it's going to be a lot of work in my life, and it's work as work, but it's a different type of work when you love what you do, and helping people, and healing people. I call myself a healer, not that I'm, you know, not that I'm a shaman or doctor by any means, but I think I have a good understanding of mother nature and introducing people to mother nature, where, you know, you can lead a horse to water, you can't make him drink it.

The true healer is the individual, it's not the healer themselves, you know what I mean? And so, I think what I've learned is that I have a knack at putting things into perspective for people, where, again, you plant seeds with people.

You plant seeds with people, some people aren't ready for this information, some people aren't ready in their lives to make change, but eventually they will, and maybe eventually they're ready for it, and then they resort back to this conversation that we once had, and they'll be like oh, I get what he was saying now, it makes sense, and now I'm ready. You know what I mean?

And I think that's it, and everyone's at a different point in their lives, and everyone's seeking answers, but some people just aren't ready for this information, and whatever information it is, whether it's cannabis related or not, health related, because it requires -- because once you know, now you're accountable.

People resist change, they don't want to hear it, and they don't -- until they're forced to, when something happens, something negative happens, and then it's like, wow. Better pull my boots up and get going here now, and, you know, until it's, you know, that's just the way it is. That's the way humans seem to be designed right now.

So, you know, all we can do is teach, educate, plant seeds, you know, the healer's job is to provide information, but not provide information, material information outside of us, but to really help people connect themselves, find themselves, and once you find yourself, you become a healer. You heal. You know what I mean? No one else is doing it for you but yourself.

And that's what you have to, I mean, you have to use the natural tools around you, but, you have to be the one conscious enough and knowledgeable enough to seek that, too. I mean, that's -- where I was going back, earlier, is when I was talking about blind faith and just praying that some magical power's going to come over and heal you of your ailments, that you've caused over your lifetime, no one else has caused, without having to do anything on the back end of it.

So, again, I always say, ownership, it is ownership, it's just taking your health back. You know, like, it's about self-preservation in this world, and it's about health. Health is wealth, and, you know, I think the sooner we understand that, the sooner you take ownership and believe in that, you change the way you live and change the way you view the world.

No one's getting out of this life alive, I get it, right? We're all dying. It's how you die. It's how you live and how you die. I mean, you want to die -- you want to live with spirit and you want to die with spirit. You don't want to be a slave and have your knees chopped out left and right, and be de-spirited, and, you know, live your last five, ten years, fifteen years, like in and out of this, you know, doctor's office, and whatever, on all these different pills and whatnot. So that's not the way to live.

You know, we've got to live spirited lives, that's what we're designed to do, and get rid of the fluff. Get back to basics. Stop worshiping outside materialistic things. You know, suppress the ego, increase the spirit. I mean, there's all kinds of things. There's a lot to this, outside of cannabis.

Cannabis is a tool in the toolbox, it's a great tool, but it needs to be integrated with a lot of these other tools as well, and that's, you know, nutrition, diet, overall lifestyle, environment, people you're with, I mean, that whole bit, I mean, you are what you think, you are what you eat, and you are what you surround with. You know what I mean?

That's who you are. So, again, this is where the shift -- we just have to shift the way we think all around.

DOUG MCVAY: So, yeah, they are really going to try and start this thing, so, let's close this thing out. Any closing thoughts for my listeners, and Athletes For Care, does it have a website?

RILEY COTE: It does,, and I think I rambled enough, so I think I covered everything I needed to cover today.

DOUG MCVAY: And one last thing, which is, what's your twitter? I follow you.

RILEY COTE: Yeah, @RileyCoyote. And then same on Instagram.

DOUG MCVAY: Fantastic. Riley, thank you so much.

RILEY COTE: No problem, thanks for having me.

DOUG MCVAY: All right folks, that's it for this week. I want to thank you for joining us. I want to thank my guest, Riley Cote, from Athletes For Care, and of course, Laramie Silber. Again, this is coming to you live from the Patients Out of Time Twelfth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in Jersey City, New Jersey. We'll have more from this conference next week.

You have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at I’m your host Doug McVay, editor of

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We'll be back next week with thirty more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the drug war. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

DOUG MCVAY: For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.