Tag: NFL

The NFL Wisely Started Allowing Players to Utilize Cannabis (on 4/20, of course)

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.

The NFL Moves Closer to Ending Cannabis Suspensions

I’m still flying high after my Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years (which led to an eventful parade where someone smoked a joint on a horse, but I digress) and I’m ecstatic that the National Football League is moving towards a sensible cannabis policy that will stop suspending players for utilizing cannabis. There are many serious issues with the NFL, one being that traumatic brain injuries caused by the violent sport can lead to devastating effects for those that suffer those injuries, and tragically to innocent people harmed by those players as well. Also, addiction to painkillers can be a huge issue for players as their careers often depend upon their ability to perform through various injuries.

The evidence suggests that repeated traumatic brain injuries can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Sadly, CTE can lead to severe behavioral issues and dementia. Famously, former New England Patriots NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of murder and committed suicide while in prison, was found to have severe CTE and he was only 27 years of age.

The ability to utilize cannabis may benefit a lot of players who suffer from traumatic brain injuries and it will certainly be beneficial for them to have a less addictive and less deadly option to utilize over narcotics like OxyContin. Forbes reported on the potential agreement that will end suspensions for cannabis use:

National Football League players would no longer face the possibility of being suspended from games just for testing positive for marijuana under a proposed collective bargaining agreement approved by team owners and circulated to players on Thursday.

The new policy being floated for approval by the the NFL Players Association would also reduce the number of players subject to testing for cannabis and narrow the window when tests can be administered from the current four months to just two weeks at the start of training camp.

The three-page summary of key terms of the union deal also includes an increase in the threshold for positive THC metabolite tests from 35 to 150 nanograms.

There are some details and votes to be completed before this new cannabis suspension policy goes into effect, but it is great to see the NFL finally start advancing with the times. Love or hate sportsballs, leagues like the NFL play a huge part in American culture. While we advance legalization across the nation and word, improving our community’s stance with influential segments of our society is a part of our battle for freedom and equality.