Tuesday, May 21, 2019
NFL perhaps ready for new approach to marijuana as it agrees to explore use of drug for pain management
Though he graduated from law school earlier this month, Lucian Lungu, a helpful student from my marijuana seminar this past semester, made sure that I did not miss this week's interest news emerging from the NFL. Indeed, Lucian was kind enough to draft this guest post covering the news with some links:
The National Football League (NFL), widely regarded as the strictest on marijuana among the four major, professional sports leagues, has seemingly began to actually move toward, possibly, implementing a new marijuana policy. On May 20, 2019, the NFL and NFL Players Association released a press release (available here) detailing the formation of two new committees concentrating on pain management and mental health care. The pain management news, as explained below, related to its marijuana policy.
The Joint Pain Management Committee will seemingly attempt to provide a solution for the widespread, dangerous, although legal, use of prescription drugs in the NFL by creating new league-wide regulations as well as a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. (The problematic use of prescription drugs should be a reason in itself for the NFL to soften its marijuana policy.) In addition, this Committee will also engage in pain management and alternative therapy research, which includes “look[ing] at marijuana,” according to Allen Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer. Additionally, every team will have a Pain Management Specialist who will work with players based on their individualized needs.
If a new marijuana policy gets adopted, it will almost certainly occur during negotiations on the next collective bargaining agreement in 2021. Nevertheless, this latest development is a great step forward for a league whose commissioner, just three years ago when asked about the NFL's restrictive policy, state that, “we believe it’s the correct policy, for now …” It looks like the “for now” period has passed, and major changes could be coming to a league in dire need of an adjustment.