New NFL Agreement Could Soften Punishment for Cannabis Use

NFL marijuana Testing mgretailer
Image: dean bertoncelj/shutterstock

DALLAS – The National Football League (NFL) may be prepared to reduce penalties issued for cannabis use among players.

With the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the league and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) set to expire after the 2020 season, negotiations between the two sides are intensifying. Many components of the previous deal likely will roll over into the next agreement, though a few key changes are expected.

The league and owners are looking to add at least one game to the regular season schedule which would increase revenue. However, with the wear and tear placed on pro football players’ bodies, the NFLPA is not likely to agree to additional games, at least without gaining something significant in return. 

Players have been seeking a relaxed cannabis testing policy for both recreational and medicinal use. Many players claim cannabinoids offer an effective way to manage pain and many former players, including Rob Gronkowski, have even joined the cannabis industry. 

Despite the popularity of cannabis among its players, the NFL still issues the harshest penalties for cannabis use when compared to the other major American sports leagues. Major League Baseball recently removed cannabis from its list of banned substances. 

The league’s testing window extends from April 20 (we’re not sure if the irony is lost on league officials) through August. During this time, players can be tested randomly. NBC Sports has reported that the league and NFLPA are discussing a new CBA that would dramatically limit the testing window to two weeks. 

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has signaled that a big shift in NFL cannabis policy may be in the works.

“I think the world is sensitive to the issue regarding marijuana,” Jones said after recent CBA negotiations. “It’s also an issue contemporarily we’re excited about being in step with the social and legal scene as it goes forward. And, so, we not only have the interest of competitiveness in mind when it comes to any type of substance, we have the issue of the law and we have the issue of the society focus on it. All of that does receive attention when you’re discussing this area with players. I think that [we can] expect an adjustment [in the] present way that marijuana is being thought about.”

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