In the cannabis community’s fight for freedom and equality, the cultural battle is a very important component as every victory for common sense leads us closer to our ultimate goal. In America, sports are an integral part of society and changing the culture in sports causes ripples that flow into the business world and throughout various aspects of American life. The National Football League (NFL) is the biggest sports league in America, with its Super Bowl becoming an unofficial holiday, even celebrated by those that aren’t usual fans. Fittingly, the NFL started its new cannabis testing policy on 4/20, also an unofficial American holiday that’s even gotten commemorated by the Senate Majority Leader and throughout the Halls of Congress.
Under the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, as the Boston Globe’s Senior NFL writer Ben Volin reported, players can start using cannabis on 4/20 and until the beginning of training camp (August 9th) with no repruccessions. There will be one drug test for all players that tests for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid, an inactive chemical that can confirm cannabis use, between the start of training camp and the first preseason game. The players will know when the test is and if they test negative, that will be their only such test all year. Further, the new agreement eliminate automatic suspensions for a simple positive test, but players can be fined and disciplined further for failing to cooperate with the testing and clinical procedures.
As, the New York Daily News reported, this policy change is a reflection of Reefer Madness fading away in our society:
The league acquiesced last offseason to a severe relaxation of its policy on marijuana, mirroring states’ legalization efforts and a general shift in the nation’s attitude toward the drug.
This is one of the givebacks in the name of player health and safety that the NFL Players’ Association acquired in exchange for agreeing to an extra regular season game and less than a 50-50 revenue split.
Many NFL players and athletes view marijuana as a safer medicine for treating or alleviating pain, compared to opioids and prescription drugs.
Additionally, the threshold for failing the THC test was increased more than four times, from 35 ng/ml to 150 ng/ml. According to the Mayo Clinic the presence of 100 ng/mL indicates relatively recent use, probably within the past 7 days while levels greater than 500 ng/mL suggest chronic and recent use. Mayo notes that chronic use causes accumulation of THC such that it is excreted into the urine for as long as 30 to 60 days from the time chronic use is halted. Cannabis connoisseurs in the NFL will want to plan accordingly since they will know when their test will be conducted.
This is a great step in the right direction for the NFL. Football is a violent sport that forces too many players to utilize too many pain pills that are extremely addictive and could be deadly. Cannabis is simply a safer alternative that can improve the lives of players. Congratulations to the players for forcing the league to adapt with the times and our scientific knowledge. And congratulations to the cannabis community at large, whether a football fan or not, as we notched another important win this 4/20. Touchdown dances are in order.