Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Friday, April 28, 2017

NFL commissioner reluctant to support allowing players to use "addictive" marijuana

During an interview this morning on ESPN's "Mike and Mike," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he doesn't yet believe marijuana use has any place in the league. NflAccording to this CBSSports.com article:

Although the league has lowered its penalties for testing positive for marijuana -- and not, you know, suspending someone half a season for failing a drug test -- it's still not allowing players to ease physical pain through medically prescribed marijuana.

 

Based on what Roger Goodell said on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" Friday morning, that standard won't be changing any time soon.

 

Goodell said he believes marijuana remains "addictive" in nature and still has negative health consequences.

 

"I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use. Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? You're ingesting smoke, so that's not usually a positive thing. It does have an addictive nature," Goodell said. "There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that might not be healthy for players long term. It's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game.

 

"We really want to help our players ... but I want to make sure the negative consequences aren't something that we'll be held accountable for years down the road."

 

The NFL isn't going to be that billion-dollar company that just suddenly tells everyone to smoke as much weed as they want. There are all kinds of legal issues at play here, especially with NFL players crossing in and out of various states -- some of which have legalized marijuana, many of which don't -- each week of the season. 

 

Additionally, the NFL is almost always conservative by nature. It is very rarely ahead of the curve when it comes to what society changes for society in terms of being acceptable and appropriate. 

 

And at the end of the day, the league can always blame the doctors. Which Goodell did: he says that medical advisers for both the NFL and NFLPA have not told the league or the union to proceed with making the penalties for marijuana lighter and/or approving medical marijuana. 

Contrary to Goodell, NFL players think they should be allowed to use medical marijuana to treat pain caused by playing the game. Nearly two-thirds of all NFL players believe removing restrictions on marijuana would cut opioid use in the league. According to one study, 51 percent of retired players said they used prescription opioids to treat pain during their playing days, and of those players 71 percent admit to having misused the drugs. 

Related posts:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2017/04/nfl-commissioner-reluctant-to-support-allowing-players-to-use-addictive-marijuana.html

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