The National Football League (NFL) has been riddled with controversies and player scandals for at least the final decade. Till significantly less than five years ago, a lot of players had been offered hefty suspensions or even lifetime bans for specific players who have had various offenses (ahem…Josh Gordon…ahem).


Now that a dozen U.S. states (and counting) have passed laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some type, it begs to query regardless of whether now is the proper time for fans and players alike to stand up against the NFL to demand that the league soften its stance on the marijuana. Let’s appear at how pro football at the moment views marijuana, how that view differs from fans and athletes, and what players who have tested good for cannabis are performing to fight their unjust suspensions.


Is Pro Football Pro- Cannabis?


Quick answer: certainly not (at least for now). The NFL beneath Commissioner Roger Goodell has continued the league’s historical really hard line stance of maintaining marijuana on the banned substance list. Goodell has indicated a reluctance to permit players to use cannabis in the previous, even going so far as to inform ESPN in 2017 that “there are a lot of compounds in marijuana that could not be healthier for the players extended-term.”


The NFL has continued to stare public opinion in the face and give every single explanation beneath the sun as to why they are nevertheless labeling it as a efficiency enhancing drug (PED) in line with steroids. Even although tons of investigation has come out in current years identifying the prospective for cannabis to alleviate a variety of ailments, the NFL has been headstrong in providing out lengthy bans for failed drug tests exactly where marijuana is identified.


Do Players Agree with the Ban?


For years, cannabis has been on the league’s list of banned substances with players getting to undergo standard random tests particularly for cannabis. A single of the most outspoken former NFL players, David Irving, utilized to play defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys till he was suspended indefinitely for getting thrice violated the NFL’s Policy and System for Substances of Abuse. Not extended following this, Irving announced his retirement from pro football, getting only been in the league for four seasons. Irving even went so far as to inform reporters that “it’s bulls–t how I have Xanax bars n hydros proper subsequent to me to take, offered to me by the NFL of course. Even so, we can not smoke the identical weed the employees itself smokes.”


Irving brings up a fantastic point about how opiod-primarily based painkillers and cortisone shots are offered out to athletes in mass to combat discomfort and swelling from their injuries. The extended-term danger of painkiller addiction is a main situation as 40% of surveyed athletes mentioned they suspected a teammate “became an addict mainly because of NFL painkiller abuse.” As a lot more main athletes are leaving the NFL in the course of the prime of their careers to take care of their well being, a lot more players are catching on (some are even becoming market spokespersons)!


It is mainly because of this that 3-quarters of 226 NFL players surveyed anonymously by ESPN had been identified to be in favor of legalizing healthcare marijuana nationwide. Quite a few of these players and former players have mentioned that marijuana aids them cope improved with the rigors of playing football and have referred to as for the NFL to loosen up its requirements in that location more than the years to no avail.


Can a New Collective Bargaining Agreement Assistance?


Historically, if an NFL player wanted to use cannabis or associated merchandise such as CBD, they would have to do so in secret without having receiving caught when it came time for their random tests. If the NFL had been to loosen up its stance on cannabis merchandise, that would permit players to use the complete rewards of these merchandise to treat risky concussions, possibly limiting the deadly improvement of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) later in life.


To get the ball rolling with the NFL on this matter requires a ton of negotiations with only a compact window of chance to do so. That window of chance is gradually opening though also coming to a close in the type of the renewal of the players’ Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which is set to expire at the finish of the 2019-2020 season.


What Does the Future Hold for Cannabis and the NFL?


As the NFL and the Players Union continue to negotiate their existing labor deal previous this season, fans and players will have to wait to see if any main developments take place. Great news is that commissioner Goodell has mentioned in the previous that the NFL would take into consideration enabling players to use marijuana for discomfort management, but only if it had been validated by healthcare and scientific specialists. While this is head and shoulders above historical language from Goodell and the NFL, we can all agree that their desires to be significantly less speak and a lot more action to push forward with a good future for the league that fans and players can get behind for decades to come.