In Memory of Cannabis Athlete Advocate Elias Theodorou

| Aly K. Benson

The cannabis community woke up to the news that struck hearts worldwide. Elias Theodorou, an MMA fighter and cannabis advocate, passed away on September 11th at age 34 after privately battling stage 4 liver cancer. 

With an overwhelming success rate of 11 consecutive victories before entering the UFC, Elias competed in 22 mixed martial arts matches in the middleweight division of the UFC. Theodorou also worked as a “ring boy” for the all-female mixed martial arts competition Invicta Fighting Championships. In addition, he spent most of the past year advocating for medical cannabis use for athletes. Elias made history when he was approved as the first professional athlete for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for medical cannabis in the USA and Canada.

His death was confirmed to TSN by his representative on Sunday evening, and since then, the cannabis community has begun sharing stories of Elias’s extraordinary life. The Mississauga local was highly involved in speaking about the importance of accessibility to cannabis for professional athletes and changed countless minds on the plant’s stigma. Earlier this year, Elias joined the Leafly Things Canada team as the Chief Athletic Officer.

“I considered Elias as a role model due to his contributions and accomplishments in MMA and Cannabis advocacy prior to the [O’Cannabiz] convention.” shared Mattias Negrette on LinkedIn. Jacqui Childs, CCO of Cannabis Wiki a proud partnering brand with Elias, shared her condolences on social media last night, posting “[Elias] took time with me and was always so patient and kind… I’m so sad… but also so grateful to be able to continue to fight to end the stigma and spread kindness and [his] message…” 

Others took to digital platforms to share their sympathies, including writer Amanda Siebert, who had recently featured Elias in a Forbes article in the spring of 2021. “I am stunned and crushed. Elias was an incredible fighter, a champion for cannabis use, and a kind-hearted soul. The impact he has had on the movement for cannabis-fueled athletes is massive… Elias was always an effortless interview, so full of joy and excitement and most of all, eager to promote positive change, in sports and beyond…”

Drew Henson, CEO, and Founder of TOQi, shared his condolences with StratCann saying, “My family are avid MMA fans, and Elias was instantly cheered on when he hit the scene. However, it wasn’t until many years later, at a Cannabis Trade show, that we would have the pleasure of chatting for the first time about his other passions in life as well as learning he was beautiful inside and out. Far too young, his memory will be celebrated. Our condolences to his friends and family.”

Jesse Lavoie from TobaGrown also contributed his sympathies “Elias was a true pioneer in the cannabis space, and his hard-hitting tactics against the stigma cannabis faces will be missed dearly. Thank you for all you’ve done, Elias. I will miss you, my friend.”

The cannabis community shares our deepest condolences to Elias’ family, friends, co-workers, and loved ones. We will keep his memory and message alive by supporting and educating medical consumers worldwide. 

Rest in peace, Spartan.

Image Credit: Photo of Elias Theodorou posted by Aaron Bronsteter, TSN MMA reporter who shared the news of the athlete’s passing.