Why Won’t the NFL Let Players Use Medical Marijuana?

The NFL has a drug policy that forbids the use of marijuana. In a statement, the NFL said that it was following “current federal law.” That is it. If the NFL were to change its stance on medical marijuana, the NFL would have to go to Congress to make a change. If the NFL were to make a statement saying that the league fully supports medical marijuana, the league would be at the forefront of a movement to legalize marijuana nationwide.

Medical marijuana is a natural substance that has been used for thousands of years, but it’s been banned from the NFL since 2010. Recent news shows that the league is changing its policy for medical marijuana, but only on the surface. In reality, the NFL is more concerned with not violating federal drug laws than it is with providing a safe environment for players.

As of January 1, 2018, the NFL will no longer permit players to use marijuana or THC products. This is a result of the league’s new policy regarding the ingestion of the substance by players. One of the myriad reasons for the restrictions on cannabis use is its possible negative side effects. The NFL is an organization that wants to make sure the players it has on its roster are in the best shape possible.



A man who works in a warehouse in Cleveland and injures his back may obtain a prescription and use medicinal marijuana to relieve his pain. A Cleveland Browns player with a bad back won’t be able to do it.

Calvin Johnson, a former Detroit Lions great, revealed why he retired after his ninth season in 2015 at the age of 30 during his acceptance speech at the NFL Pro Football Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony this past summer.

He left because of the agony he was in and the fact that he had to rely on prescription pain medicine to keep going because of league rules.

Johnson stated in Canton, “I had a severe back injury in my first year in the NFL.” “I couldn’t feel my legs at the time because it was that terrible. And I felt my career was coming to an end.” “The pain started to take a toll on my body and my quality of life, and it wasn’t getting any better,” she says.

In a 2019 interview, he stated, “When I came to the league [in 2007], [there was] opioid addiction.” “You could truly have anything you wanted in the training room. Vicodin and Oxy[contin] are both available to me. It was much too readily accessible. I was on Percocet and other narcotics. And I didn’t like how I felt as a result. I was able to use the medication of my choosing. Cannabis.”

The NFL currently has a marijuana issue. But not the one you would expect.

The NFL still prohibits players from using marijuana. However, this league regulation supersedes local legislation. Only six of the NFL’s 32 clubs are based in states where prescription medicinal marijuana is not allowed (Green Bay Packers, Texans and Cowboys in Texas, Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, and Tennessee Titans). Even those states are expected to have marijuana-related health-care programs in the near future.


So, why are NFL players denied access to the same healthcare as the rest of the population?

Let me give you an example: I reside in Cleveland, and Ohio has authorized medicinal marijuana with a prescription from a qualified physician. My home is less than a half-mile from a marijuana prescription shop. If I have a lower back problem and want to use marijuana for pain relief, I may go to the doctor, obtain a prescription, and have it filled at a dispensary near my home.

Baker Mayfield, the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, cannot utilize the legal medical marijuana system in Ohio where he works without having to conceal his usage from league testing. Players may be randomly tested for THC throughout the time between the start of training camp (early April) and each team’s first preseason game, despite the testing system being eased by a recent collective bargaining agreement (early August).

Positive test punishments aren’t harsh: NFL players can’t be banned from games if they test positive. Whether they test positive, they are assessed to see if they need drug treatment. Which is reasonable: there is a distinction to be made between taking marijuana for pain relief and having a drug issue.

However, the league fines them at the same time. For first offenses, a half-week pay loss is imposed, followed by a one-week salary loss for second offenses, a two-week salary loss for third offenses, and a three-week salary loss for fourth and subsequent offenses.

Why didn’t the league and the players union agree on a more transparent approach in their latest CBA? The most common cause is financial.

New income sources are on the way for the NFL (sports betting, fantasy football links, more TV outlets, and extra games). Players often ask management for one of two things: money or improved working circumstances. The NFL reasoned that by sacrificing a little on testing, they would be able to keep more of the money. They’d still have a card to play in the following showdown if they didn’t give everything away during testing.

This strategy worked: the CBA was ratified by the players with just 60 votes.

Another reason the NFL may not just accept medicinal marijuana usage is the culture of a portion of its consumer base.

Over kneeling during the national anthem, the NFL has an issue with its older and more conservative white supporters. Perhaps the NFL is concerned that decriminalizing marijuana usage among its staff (which is 70% African-American) would irritate the more irate members of its fan base (which is 57 percent white).

However, the evidence indicates that if there was ever a group of American employees who might benefit from marijuana as a healthcare alternative, it’s professional athletes in general and NFL players in particular. Because of their football-playing job position, they must cope with greater pain than others, have a shorter career due to work-related injuries, and the risk of catastrophic work-related health issues (such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in the future.

Peter Grinspoon, M.D., is a general care physician who works in a Boston inner-city clinic and is on staff at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also a medical professor at Harvard Medical School. Last year, he summarized how marijuana isn’t a magical cure-all for medical problems, but it does have some useful qualities for pain management.

“In the United States, the most frequent use of medicinal marijuana is for pain relief,” Grinspoon stated. “While marijuana isn’t powerful enough to treat severe pain (such as post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite successful in treating chronic pain, which affects millions of Americans, particularly as they become older. Its appeal stems from the fact that it is obviously safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and much less addictive), and it can replace NSAIDs like Advil or Alleve if individuals can’t take them owing to kidney, ulcer, or GERD [heartburn] issues.

The NFL, if it were wise, would utilize one issue to solve another. Eugene Monroe, a former NFL offensive lineman who played from 2009 to 2015, believes that legalizing medicinal marijuana may help avoid the sort of opiate addiction that has long plagued football players attempting to stay on the field while dealing with pain.

“I’m asking for the NFL to remove marijuana off the prohibited drugs list; support medical marijuana research, particularly as it pertains to CTE; and stop overprescribing addictive and deadly opioids,” Monroe says on his website.

For the past several years, the NFL has been facing criticism for its policy against allowing players to use medical marijuana to treat injuries. The critics point to the fact that the league has the highest rate of concussions of any professional sport. The law allowing players to treat injuries with cannabis has been passed by thirty states, including California, where the Super Bowl will be played on Sunday.. Read more about can nfl players smoke cigarettes and let us know what you think.

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