The NFL Players Association announced Wednesday that it will form a committee to study the use of marijuana as a pain-management tool for players, after multiple states legalized marijuana use during Tuesday’s election.
Between the dangers of opiate-based painkillers and the general rise of legal marijuana use, there has been a movement to change the NFL’s drug policies. Current NFL policies stipulate players can be suspended and fined for failed drug tests.
Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan, former NFL offensive lineman Eugene Monroe, and former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer have all called for the league to reconsider its stance on the drug. Sports Illustrated took an in-depth look in July at former running back Ricky Williams and his relationships with football and weed.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy reiterated in a statement to the Washington Post that the NFL is not currently considering changing its policy.
“The program is administered by jointly appointed independent medical advisors to the league and the NFLPA who are constantly reviewing and relying on the most current research and scientific data. We continue to follow the advice of leading experts on treatment, pain management and other symptoms associated with concussions and other injuries. However, medical experts have not recommended making a change or revisiting our collectively-bargained policy and approach related to marijuana, and our position on its use remains consistent with federal law and workplace policies across the country. If these medical experts change their view, then this is an area that we would explore.”
Seven states, as well as Washington D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana use after measures passed in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada on Tuesday. Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved medical marijuana, increasing the number of states with such laws to 25 (plus Washington D.C.).
The obvious issue for the NFL, at least in the short term, is that weed is legal only in some of the states with NFL franchises. Additionally, the NFL and the NFLPA would have to agree on a new policy, should the union’s study yield positive results.
“Marijuana is still governed by our collective bargaining agreement,” George Atallah, the NFLPA’s assistant executive director of external affairs, said Wednesday. “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.”