NFL players get one step closer to pot as a pain treatment
As a handful of states voted on recreational and medicinal marijuana propositions this week, the NFL Players Association announced it would study pot as a pain-management treatment for players.
The NFL currently bans marijuana, though the repercussions for using it are more lenient than for other drugs. But the league has endured plenty of outrage for how it penalizes marijuana violations versus, say, domestic violence.
Now, it looks like there could be progress on that front
The Players Association will form a committee that studies different pain treatments, marijuana included, George Atallah, the NFLPA’s assistant executive director of external affairs, told the Washington Post on Wednesday.
Before we get too far, though, it’s worth noting that the NFL and the NFL Players Association are two entirely different organizations, though they often overlap on players’ rights issues. Any official changes on the marijuana policy front would have to come from the league itself.
Still, the NFLPA’s research is encouraging, considering the conversation on weed in the NFL has been budding for a while.
In March, retired NFL lineman Eugene Monroe called for the league to consider pot as a way to help ease the daily pain of being a professional football player. Marijuana, Monroe argued, is a better alternative to Vicodin and Oxycontin, opioid medications that have a track record of addiction among NFL players.
— ESPN (@espn) November 2, 2016
Players are already using it behind closed doors.
Last year, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman reported that a big number of players have found ways around the regulations — the league administers only one drug test per year to players who haven’t previously failed one.
So as long as that testing window isn’t approaching, players can smoke up without having to worry.
Many delivered a collective outcry in 2014 when the NFL suspended Ravens running back Ray Rice two games for punching his fiancée, and handed Browns receiver Josh Gordon a one-year ban for smoking pot. It’s important to mention that Gordon was a repeat offender — he failed multiple rounds of drug tests to earn that one-year suspension.
But many viewed that discrepancy in punishment as a major contradiction.
Ray Rice two games. Josh Gordon a year. Congratulations on being completely corrupt and misguided, NFL management.
— Jim Souhan (@SouhanStrib) August 27, 2014
If you date an NFL player, change your name to marijuana. That way if he hits you, they'll punish him.
— Michelle Wolf (@michelleisawolf) August 27, 2014
Ah, the NFL.
Speaking of contradictions, Max Kellerman, a commentator on ESPN’s First Take, bashed the NFL’s ban on pot. He highlighted one of the NFL’s many hypocrisies — the league has close ties with alcohol brands and openly promotes it, but the physical effects of alcohol are more damaging than those of marijuana, which the league bans.
“They’re in bed with companies that pedal alcohol,” he said. “It’s family entertainment but if you turn on, during the commercials, you know, there they are selling alcoholic beverages. And sanctioning against marijuana, which is not as bad for you?”
The arguments are there, and now the research is taking shape.
“Marijuana is still governed by our collective bargaining agreement,” Atallah said on Wednesday. “And while some states have moved in a more progressive direction, that fact still remains.”
The country is already legalizing marijuana. It’s high time the NFL caught up.