Cannabis has long been a point of contention in professional football. From Ricky Williams being exiled from the NFL for his blatant and continued marijuana use, to the huge number of former players getting involved in the medical marijuana industry, and current pros pushing for the league to allow CBD use for pain relief and end suspensions for recreational use.
Now, after years of ignoring the issue or dropping one-line reefer madness excuses, the league’s front office has finally reached out to the Players Association, with an offer to collaborate on medical marijuana research and look at possibilities of incorporating it in the NFL moving forward.
Currently, cannabis is banned from the NFL in all forms, using routine drug tests and suspensions as means of dissuading players from partaking. Thanks to the over-prescription of opioids and pleas from players, the Players Association has already started conducting independent research into cannabis and pain management.
“I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate,” DeMaurice Smith, the players’ union’s executive director, said in January. “I think it’s important to look at whether there are addiction issues. And I think it’s important to not simply assume recreation is the reason it’s being used.”
League Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke on the issue more recently, in an interview with Fox radio in January, and while he did say he expects changes in the NFLPA’s next collective bargaining agreement in 2020, he also said he believes that marijuana is a dangerous and addictive plant.
The comments from both men have not inspired confidence that the league is actually anywhere close to changing their draconian, pharmaceutical-first pain management policies.
According to a new report from the Washington Post, though, the NFL could be closer to changing their cannabis policy than anyone, including Smith or Commissioner Roger Goodell, originally let on. Citing sources close to the situation, the Post says that the league has sent a letter to Smith and the NFLPA offering to work together in efforts to research the future of cannabis in professional football.
“We look forward to working with the Players Association on all issues involving the health and safety of our players,” Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, said.
It isn’t clear if the players’ union has accepted the league’s offer, or how far along they are in their own cannabis research, but any form of collaboration on marijuana research between pro football’s two largest entities is a move in the right direction.