NFLPA to Study Pain-Management Tools for Players, Including Marijuana, as More States Legalize Pot
Tuesday, Americans everywhere went to the polls to vote, and in case you haven’t heard yet, Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. Voters also voiced their opinions on the legalization of marijuana in many states, and after November 8th, 29 states now allow medical uses of pot with another eight states plus the District of Columbia legalizing recreational use.
Two states, Colorado and Washington—home states of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, respectively—have allowed recreational pot since 2012. California, Massachusetts, and Nevada passed recreational use Tuesday, adding the San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Oakland Raiders (or Las Vegas Raiders), and New England Patriots to the list of teams playing in states where pot is legal.
Of course, weed has never been allowed by the NFL. Just ask Josh Brown or Ricky Williams. It got them in a lot of trouble. Now, however, as states and the culture move toward legalization, the league is also looking at the possibility of allowing it for pain management.
“Marijuana is still governed by our collective bargaining agreement,” said NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah. “And while some states have moved in a more progressive direction, that fact still remains. We are actively looking at the issue of pain management of our players. And studying marijuana as a substance under that context is the direction we are focused on.”
Many former players have made their position on marijuana very clear, including former Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Eugene Monroe, who argues that not only is weed a phenomenal pain-killer but also that many players already use it. Of course, Monroe’s activism for pot may have also cost him any shot he had at a job in the NFL.
“To this point, I understand why no one but me as an active player has said anything about it,” said Monroe before his retirement. “It’s a banned substance in our league. Speaking about it can honestly ruin someone’s career if the wrong team gets wind of it and has adverse opinions on it. But my health is more important than the opinion of someone who could be my employer now or my future employer. There’s enough anecdotal evidence already to say, ‘Hey listen, we know it’s not toxic. We know it’s safer than what we’re already doing.’”
Monroe definitely isn’t wrong. Current players have spoken; however, they typically, unlike Monroe, find themselves speaking anonymously out of fear of losing their roster spots.
“There is no health and safety reason for marijuana being on the banned list, and now the legal rationale has crumbled,” said an anonymous player Wednesday after the election.
Many also use the argument that marijuana is significantly safer for the players than pain pills. Where weed can be “addicting,” it isn’t the same type of addiction, by any means, that opioid use all too often results in.
“In my mind, there’s no comparison if we just started from scratch in the year 2016 and looked newly at which class of drugs worked better to treat pain and side-effect profile up to and including death, in the case of opioids,” said University of Michigan professor Daniel Clauw. “You put the two next to each other, and there really is no debate which is more effective to treat pain. You would go the cannabinoid route instead of the opiate route.”
Call me skeptical, but I have a hard time believing a league that doesn’t allow players to celebrate after doing something good will allow players to start smoking weed. Honestly, I have a hard time believing Roger Goodell will let the players do anything at all.