NFL and Medical Marijuana

The NFL and Medical Marijuana – A Match Made in Heaven

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is scheduled to vote on a new drug-testing policy and punishment schedule today.  The NFLPA seeks to reduce the penalties for marijuana and amphetamines as well as increase the allowable levels in positive test results.  We’ve previously talked about what an asinine farce the current policy  is here. But there is another angle to this and it involves the current concussion/ brain injury public relations nightmare.  Recent studies have shown an undeniable link between CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and retired football players.  And with the pending NFPLA vote, the conversation has shifted  to how can medical marijuana mitigate the effects of CTE, for both current and former players.  It’s a fascinating conundrum faced by the league and a sign of the changing times and public perception of marijuana.  I know Josh Gordon is anxiously awaiting today’s pending vote.  Check out this in-depth expose on the subject by Good Magazine – it’s a long read but definitely worth the time.  It seems like the NFL and medical marijuana are a match made in heaven, ready to happen any day now.

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NFL and Medical Marijuana
Image: Sports Illustrated

“The league’s relationship with marijuana is decidedly antagonistic, most recently evidenced by the 16-game suspension of star Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon is one of six players who, over the past year, have been suspended by the N.F.L. more severely for marijuana use than Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was for assaulting his fiancée. Even in the world of professional athletics, the N.F.L. is strict on weed; last year the World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees drug testing for the Olympics, raised its threshold for a positive marijuana test to a level ten times higher than that currently required by the N.F.L.

Yet in January, Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke publicly about the potential for marijuana as an analgesic. “I don’t know what’s going to develop, as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries,” he said, when asked whether he could envision a future in which players use marijuana to treat pain. “But we will continue to support the evolution of medicine.”

Read More: Good Magazine

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