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NFL Player’s Association Looking To Hash Out Marijuana Policy With New Proposal

nfl marijuana cbartley97 via flickr.com

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NFL Player’s Association is burning old policies to allow for less punitive approach on the use of marijuana

For years, the NFL has looked down upon the use of marijuana as a form of pain management. But as state laws continue to progress forward, and medical marijuana has become legal in 26 states, the NFL Player’s Association is looking to continue that progress. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have had talks about taking a ‘less punitive’ approach towards the use of marijuana by the players.

In an interview with The Washington Post, DeMaurice Smith answered the burning questions about marijuana that people have been asking for years. Smith said that the proposal will be presented to union’s board of player representatives and if it is approved by those players the proposal will be made to the league. There would then have to be a joint agreement with the NFL that would allow for a change to the drug policy that is already in place.

By no means does this means that players will be able to smoke recreationally anytime soon, but this is a huge step towards allowing medical use. The only source of pain management that players have been allowed to years in the NFLs existence has been pills. With addiction being the biggest issue that comes with taking pain pills, the players have been seeking for a healthy alternative. Smith commented on tightroping that line that will allow the drug policy to change.

“I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate. I think it’s important to look at whether there are addiction issues. And I think it’s important to not simply assume recreation is the reason it’s being used. We have to do a better job of knowing if our players are suffering from other potentially dangerous psychological issues like depression, right?  And what we try to do is what a union’s supposed to do: improve the health and safety of our players in a business that sometimes can seriously exacerbate existing physical and mental issues.”

There are a number of reasons why people use marijuana. Whether it be for recreational, pain management, for psychological,  or medical use, the NFL will have to find a way to understand why a player chooses to use this drug that is still considered an illegal substance on a Federal level. We have seen over the years that NFL players have decided to use it for all of these reasons, and their voices are now being heard.


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When thinking about NFL players and marijuana, Ricky Williams is looked at as one of the first players to choose the use of the drug for his mental health over his career. Williams is an advocate of the marijuana industry, his latest business venture is working with the organization 420 Games to create a gym in San Francisco that encourages the use of marijuana during workouts. His work has inspired many other retired NFL players, including Eugene Monroe. Monroe has his own website that is a call to action for the NFL to open their minds to the use of marijuana. His mission statement is on the home page of his website.

“I’m calling for the NFL to remove marijuana from the banned substances list; fund medical marijuana research, especially as it relates to CTE; and stop overprescribing addictive and harmful opioids.”

Current players have their names slandered, and have received multiple suspensions for their use of marijuana as an alternative to pain killers. Santonio Holmes may have had his career cut short when the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to trade the Super Bowl MVP after he failed a drug test. Josh Gordon was an All-Pro receiver as a rookie in the NFL, and he has yet to play a snap since that season after receiving multiple suspensions for failed drug tests. Justin Blackmon has yet to even play in the NFL at all, as he continues to stick to his beliefs as a marijuana advocate. Two current Steelers players have received multiple suspensions due to the use of marijuana, Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant.

So what does this mean for those players? Not much right now besides maybe taking them out from under a microscope. Until the federal law changes, don’t expect players to be allowed to just light a joint up after a game without any repercussions. But as long as there continues to be advocates like Williams and Monroe, the NFL will continue to progress forward towards this healthier alternative to pain pills.