If you were to look at the way professional sports leagues treat cannabis as if they were states in the US, then the National Football League would likely represent Oklahoma. Being the incredibly physical and high risk sport that American football is, a number players have come out to advocate cannabis as a replacement for highly addictive opiates.
Although the NFL has dropped minor hints that they’re considering a change in their harsh marijuana policy sometime in the near future, the punishment for having cannabis show up on a drug test remains one of the worst actions in the eyes of the league. Though many players have been handed lengthy suspensions for marijuana use, there aren’t many instances like Buffalo Bills right tackle Seantrel Henderson's.
After sitting for the first four games of the 2016 season for having cannabis show up on his drug test, Henderson was just penalized with a 10 game suspension for his second violation. However, what makes the 24-year-old offensive linesman’s situation different from most is that he suffers from Crohn’s disease. Cannabis has been proven to be extremely beneficial for treating this chronic inflammation and bowel disease, but NFL players are restricted from using cannabis no matter what the reason is.
Aside from dealing with his multiple suspensions, Henderson has also undergone two intensive surgeries for the disease. In between having his colon removed and intestines reattached, the detrimental operations led him to lose 50 pounds in three months. On top of that, due to the sensitivity of his intestines, the Buffalo Bills’ player isn’t able to take traditional medications, which led him towards using medical-grade cannabis as a treatment option instead. This has put Henderson in a helpless position, as marijuana is the only thing that can help him get back on the field.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Henderson is considering a lawsuit against the NFL, but even that effort may be fruitless. Since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, it’s likely that his case won’t work under the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the NFL has suspended a vast number of players for cannabis use in the past, their decision seems especially cruel in the case of Seantrel Henderson. For now, it seems the only way he’ll get back on the field is if the league decides to revise their outdated and harmful policy.