The NFL has no shortage of issues—domestic violence; concussions; diversity in coaching, management, and ownership; driving under the influence; and steroids, to name a few—but one that it may properly address this year is cannabis use by its athletes. Former players turned advocates like Ricky Williams, Eugene Monroe, and Shaun Phillips have been leading the charge for change, calling for independent research on how the plant may protect players from their violent profession, the replacement of addictive opioid painkillers with cannabis, and more lenient punishment for positive tests. (How about none at all?) Current players, who can’t be as vocal for fear of losing their jobs, have shown support for marijuana legalization in polls and the NFL Players Association is pushing for a new approach on their behalf. There’s a sense that the league needs to update its stance on the plant, which has been about as draconian and biased as the failed War on Drugs.
Watch the video to see how minds are changing and why 2017 might finally be the year that the NFL adopts a more sensible cannabis policy.