The NFL & Medicinal Marijuana

Aside from the Super Bowl, the big talk in the NFL has been about the possible use of medicinal marijuana down the line. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he is open to the idea of allowing medicinal marijuana use in the league to treat concussions and other injuries.

If this ever does go through in the NFL, it won’t be any time in the near future. The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement forbids players from using the drug. NFL players can be tested as often as 23 times during the season and offseason, but only a maximum amount of six times during the offseason. Players with drug and alcohol issues coming into the league are instantly placed in the NFL’s anonymous substance abuse programs, which allow for more testing.

Football is a dangerous and barbaric game, it has been since its inception in 1869. Each and every year,  players get hurt or banged up. Some injuries are season and/or career threatening, while others are soreness and bruises. A big injury that the NFL is taking more seriously these days is a concussion. The league had mandated rules that penalize players for hitting in the head. Players will look to ease that pain away and are often times are prescribed drugs from the doctor and the player has to make sure it doesn’t violate the substance abuse policy. Medicinal marijuana could be a drug to help these players ease their pains and aches away in the future.

Medicinal marijuana has been decriminalized in 20 states and the District of Colombia. In Colorado and Washington, it is legal to smoke marijuana recreationally. The two teams in the Super Bowl this year were both from the two states that allow everyday marijuana use. This is how the subject got brought up. While it is legal to smoke in those two sates, it is still against the NFL’s laws.

Every player in the NFL, or any sport for that matter, is a role model for everyone, especially young kids. These kids grow up idolizing these athletes who are the best of the best in hopes of one day doing what they are watching. With the topic at hand gaining a little bit of steam, we have to think of what kind of message this sends to the children. If it is alright to use marijuana medicinally, kids will find out about it and then get the idea of doing it in their heads. This is a big issue because smoking weed has been shown to reduce grades, IQs, and graduation rates amongst teenagers. If these kids see or hear about their heroes using marijuana, they will want to as well. They will justify that they are using the drug because of one of their favorite players using it too.

Players and coaches have spoken out about the issue of one day medicinal marijuana being allowed to be used in a supporting manner. Super Bowl champion coach Pete Carroll is open to the idea if it indeed does help the players. He said because medicine is looking at the facts, the NFL should too because it would help protect and take better care of the players. New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie said in a recent interview that the NFL should just allow the use of medicinal marijuana, because “we’re just going to do it anyway.”Sure, NFL players will smoke weed if they feel they want to, but it could cost them millions of dollars if they are caught and suspended. Maybe Cromartie is onto something. If the players are just going to do it regardless with the risk of suspension, Goodell has to look at that and evaluate what is going on and what could potentially help the league.

This will be an issue for the coming years as it is likely more and more states will decriminalize marijuana and make it so that people can smoke it recreationally. The more research that is done and the longer this issue catches headlines, the more likely it will become okay to use medicinal marijuana to help with concussions and other injuries or pains in the NFL. It won’t be any time in the near future, but all signs are pointing to this happening down the road.

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I am a 2013 graduate of Clarion University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a concentration in journalism. I aspire to be great. I love sports and professional wrestling. Follow me on Twitter @KIngEdward15 and engage in sports talk with me.

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