Will the NFL Ever “Legalize It”?

Will the NFL Ever “Legalize It”?

Years ago, the idea of the NFL allowing players to smoke marijuana would have seemed like a pipe dream (please forgive the pun). However, the league has given some indication that these regulations might start to change as more states legalize and decriminalize marijuana use and possession. We’ll take a look at some of the people working to make this happen, as well as some of the odds that still stand in their way.

NFL Marijuana Busts: A Brief History

It’s fascinating to think how far our culture has come in terms of marijuana acceptance. Even if you’re not a sports fan, it should come as a pretty huge surprise that an organization that prides itself on “traditional values” might change their mind regarding medical marijuana.

After all, the NFL has been making public examples of the potheads in their ranks, practically since the league was formed. You might be aware that Ricky Williams has been busted for marijuana use four times throughout his successful career.

The thing is, it’s not like these are bench-warmers with some kind of crippling cannabis addiction. A veritable “who’s who” of NFL all-stars have gotten in trouble–often for miniscule amounts of weed. A few prominent examples include the Minnesota Vikings’ Percy Harvin, Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch, and even Hall-of-Famer Warren Sapp. Randy Moss was kicked out of Florida State for marijuana use, but has not had any issues with it in the NFL.

Many retired and current football players have become marijuana advocates, including Jae Plummer and Nate Jackson. Fighting back against a system they see as unfair–their feeling is that you shouldn’t get in trouble even if you purchased wholesale vaporizers, let alone smoking an occasional bowl.

When Might We See Results?

With full-scale legalization in several states and legal medicinal marijuana in over two dozen, the tide of public opinion seems to be in favor of marijuana legalization. How long until this is reflected in our requirements for athletes?

The league remains noncommittal about answers, but it will be interesting to see how this issue pans out over the next few years. According to the Washington Post, the NFL Players Association is now actively studying the possibility of using cannabis to treat pain.

Unfortunately, marijuana use is governed by players’ collective bargaining agreements. New, more lenient state measures do not change that fact. More players support these measures each year. Coupled with the nation’s increasingly accepting attitude of medical marijuana’s benefits and the public’s growing awareness of the horrors of opiate addiction, the NFL may at least allow for the use of CBD.

Pain is a big issue for many professional athletes, and medical marijuana provides many with a safer, less-addictive alternative to opiate painkillers. Recent issues, including data about concussions, has forced the NFL to become more transparent about its policies. As it stands, the Players Association maintains their escalating system of punishment for a drug test that reveals the presence of a mere nanogram of THC.

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