There’s a major pro-cannabis movement brewing in the National Football League (NFL). With a barrage of research showing the benefits that marijuana presents for pain management and eliminating opioid addiction, the league is finding it difficult to justify their harsh stance against its use by athletes. Luckily, this could soon change thanks to mounting support by both current and former players, as well as a startling endorsement from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
It turns out that even the fans believe that professional athletes should have the right to use cannabis. A recent study conducted by Yahoo/Marist Poll found that 69 percent of American adults have no issue with players using marijuana to recover from physical impact and injury. 26 percent of the respondents disapproved of use, while just 5 percent claimed to be unsure.
The poll questioned 1,122 adults, and also found that most of them were okay with professional athletes using marijuana for recreational purposes as well. There also seemed to be a trend in demographics that oppose allowing cannabis use in professional sports. The Yahoo/Marist Poll questionnaire discovered that the most likely groups to lose respect for an athlete over using marijuana were respondents 70 and over (52 percent), politically conservative (47 percent), and those who have never tried cannabis (43 percent).
Out of the four main professional sporting leagues in the U.S., the NFL has been particularly impacted by strict anti-cannabis regulations. Both the NHL and MLB do not punish their players for testing positive to marijuana, while the NBA’s enforcement is considered lax.
As it stands now, NFL players are tested for recreational drugs once per year at some point between April 20 and early August. However, athletes enrolled in substance-abuse programs are tested more frequently. Following a first infraction, NFL players face increasing fines, which can eventually lead to long-term suspensions if the infractions are recurring.
This is unfortunate for professional football players, as they seem to be the among those who could benefit the most from cannabis use. Due to high physical impact and constant injury, a large number of these athletes grow dependent on painkillers. However, a few months ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hinted that he might be open to renegotiating the league’s harsh marijuana policy with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
With budding support from both athletes and fans, it seems that the time may have come for the NFL to change their attitude towards cannabis, allowing their players to use a medicine that contributes to their long-term wellbeing.