The NFL has notified the NFL Players Association that it is willing to help commission a study to examine marijuana’s potential benefit for pain management.
It has been a busy week for professional sports and marijuana. Yesterday, we reported that NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, was not willing to make changes to the league’s marijuana policy at this time.
Today, we learned that the NFL, known for harboring anti-marijuana views, has decided to work with NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to study the potential benefits of marijuana for pain management. Currently, the NFLPA is conducting its own study on the issue.
The offer from the NFL could signal a shift in league policy. As recently as April of this year, Commissioner Roger Goodell claimed that marijuana was “addictive” and “unhealthy.”
But today, the league seems to have softened its stance. “We look forward to working with the Players Association on all issues involving the health and safety of our players,” said Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications according to the Washington Post.
The NFLPA seems encouraged by Lockhart’s comments.“I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate,” NFLPA Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith said. “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.”
Substance abuse has been problematic for the NFL for years. High-profile players, including Hall of Famer Brett Favre, have been open about dependence and addiction to painkillers to fight through injury and stay on the field. Many current and former players feel marijuana would be a more effective and safer option over prescription opioids.
Many former players such as Eugene Monroe, Marvin Washington, Leonard Marshall, and Jim McMahon have become advocates for medical marijuana.
Currently, the NFL tests all players for marijuana use. Players face possible suspensions if they test positive.