The National Football League in recent years has come under fire for its marijuana policy. Journalists and fans have scrutinized the NFL for having too strict of a policy for players who were caught with the drug in their system.

Marijuana is still a banned substance in the NFL and has led to multiple big player suspensions in recent years. The last time the NFL changed its policy on the drug was in 2014 when it raised the threshold for a marijuana positive test from 15 nanograms to 35.

What has put the NFL in hot water for their marijuana rules is simply that the drug is now legal in multiple states and the penalty for being caught with it has resulted in longer suspensions than serious issues like domestic violence.

However that could all change very soon.

According to various reports, the NFL recently participated in a conference call with major medical marijuana researchers. The goal of the call was to learn more about medical marijuana use for the future of the NFL.

The movement and decision to participate in the call was led by Baltimore Ravens lineman Eugene Monroe, who has been working towards changing the current marijuana policy in the NFL.

According to Kilgore’s article in the Washington Post, Monroe has donated around $80,000 to medical marijuana research at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins. Monroe has even gone on twitter to advocate for drug reforms.

Well Monroe has caught the NFL’s attention and now the league is listening to him and the doctors he’s spoken with.

The call the NFL took part in that was partially set up by Monroe included Jeff Miller, an NFL Senior Vice President, and Russell Lonser, a neurological surgeon with the league’s head, neck, and spine committee. The researchers speaking to them were the same ones funded by Monroe.

“They are interested in learning more about the potential for cannabinoids to help current and former players, as is evidenced by them taking the call, and also expressed a desire to learn more,” Marcel Bonn-Miller, a University of Pennsylvania professor told The Washington Post. “They are definitely showing genuine curiosity, and they are definitely not throwing up roadblocks.”

However, this sign of possible change contradicts what Commissioner Roger Goodell said back in February. During the annual “State of the NFL” event, the Commissioner said he has no plans to change the marijuana policy.

“It’s an NFL policy and we believe it’s the correct policy for now and in the best interest of our players and the long term health of our players,” Goodell said.

However, the Commissioner may have no choices, Multiple studies have found that more and more players are developing signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Monroe has stated on his website that his researchers have discovered marijuana can be used to combat early signs of CTE and reduce the risk of a player developing it.

“The NFL should be sponsoring studies to learn more about this,” Monroe wrote.

When Monroe has done a great job advocating for less marijuana restrictions in the NFL, he still has a ways to go. As stated earlier, Commissioner Goodell said as recently as February that the NFL had no plans to change its marijuana policy. But when you look at the facts, it’s clear there are some advantages to changing it and the conference call between Monroe’s researchers, Miller, and Lonser is a start.

[Business Insider, Washington Post]

About David Lauterbach

David is a writer for The Comeback. He enjoyed two Men's Basketball Final Four trips for Syracuse before graduating in 2016. If The Office or Game of Thrones is on TV, David will be watching.

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