If an athlete smokes marijuana at any time playing for a professional sport in America then it will violate the league’s substance abuse policy and result in fines and/or suspensions regardless if the devil’s lettuce is legal in the particular state they use it.
Every professional sports league has a hard line stance and if you violate that policy multiple times – like in the case of former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon – you could be suspended for an entire season.
But the tides seem to be shifting and one of America’s biggest league’s looks to be on the forefront of changing the narrative and allowing its players to use the federally illegal substance.
It’s one of the more controversial states vs. federal rights. As you know, federal laws trump state laws. So when Colorado first legalized marijuana against federal guidelines, they took a gamble that federal wouldn’t spend resources on prosecuting those marijuana users that violate the federal law. And largely, they were right.
That’s why California, Washington state, Washington, D.C., and Oregon soon followed Colorado’s league in making it completely legal and 33 total states allow it for medicinal purposes but it needs to be prescribed by a medical doctor.
What you might not know is that regardless if Mary Jane is legal in the state, professional athletes in the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL are not allowed to use because it violates the unions’ conduct policy.
The NFL looks to be on the forefront of changing that narrative.
Earlier this week, the NFL Players Association – the union that specifically protects the players – called for a study of alternative solutions for pain management. Now, the NFL apparently has an open mind to it, which using marijuana as an alternative is something players have wanted for years.
The league is looking to strike an agreement this week with the NFL Players Association in the name of holistic health and wellness. There’s a joint committee coming — not joint as in blunt, but joint in that medical experts will be appointed by the league and union — that is charged to study data on several alternative methods of pain management and make recommendations.
That means this will be a slow process because the extensive research and studies will likely take years to come to a proper conclusion on whether it works or not. Make no mistake; it will linger. The NFL wants it to be that way.
In the meantime, players rarely take drug tests throughout the season. If they pass the mandatory offseason drug test then the likelihood they have to take another one during the season is rare.
Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long (son of legendary Hall of Famer Raiders defensive end Howie Long) recently announced on social media that he was officially retiring. He’s out and doesn’t need to abide by the NFL’s conduct policy.
And that’s why it wasn’t a surprise when he went on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Tuesday and somewhat unsurprisingly revealed he used his “fair share” of marijuana during his 11-season NFL career.
Chris said, “I’m not a dry snitch, I’m not going to put a percentage on how much the league smokes, but I certainly enjoyed my fair share on a regular basis throughout my career. If not for that, I’m not as capable of coping with the stresses of the day-to-day NFL life.”
He also shrugged when asked if he cared whether the league suspends players if they’re caught.
That means many other players do the same thing for sure. They’re going to do it anyway and if it really does help with pain management then it’s not like it’s any less safe than other opioids they’re subscribed.