The NFL and THC don’t mix primarily because there is no overwhelming majority supporting either side of the argument. The conservative rule-makers still treat the plant as a Schedule 1 narcotic just like the federal government, but many of the players see it as a holistic and effective way to ease the pain they face on a daily basis. This fundamental divide in opinion has led to quite the debate.
In a recent interview, ESPN sat down and talked to retired NFL players to hear what they thought about the League raising the threshold for allowed THC content in drug tests for their players. After another year of several NFL players getting arrested or suspended from the league for marijuana possession, there has been a significant amount of backlash from the public.
Players that are on teams located in states that have legal cannabis are still prohibited from ingesting the plant even if the player is using it for medicinal purposes.
Jake Plummer, former NFL quarterback, says he thinks of marijuana as a medicine more than a drug. The NFL’s new drug policy increased allowed positive results for THC up to 35ng/mL, over two times higher than the previous threshold of 15ng/mL. Abiding by the previous drug policy, a player could test positive for marijuana just from the secondhand smoke of the plant. To many, this policy was a bit absurd. Retired NFL player Mark Brunell thinks otherwise. In the interview Brunell states “There is no place in the NFL for this [marijuana].”
In a major league sport that has had over 200 concussions every year for the past three Source as well as a plethora of other practice and game related injuries, it would be plausible to think that the league would be a little more proactive about getting its athletes basic pain relieving drugs.
Many players, like Plummer, suffer from chronic pain daily after all of the years playing for the NFL. Marijuana is the go-to medicine to relieve his pain. He says it’s his way to deal with his lingering football injuries. Nate Jackson, former tight end for Plummer, admits to marijuana use during his time in the NFL. “I had a lot of pretty severe injuries over my career. When I was recovering from an injury, I found that marijuana was good. It was an alternative to pain pills, I didn’t like the way pain pills made me feel,” says Jackson.
When looking at the statistics of addiction and overdoses caused from pain pills compared to marijuana, the results are clear. “You’re not going to be a drug addict, you don’t need to go to treatment, you actually feel better,” says Plummer when comparing legal prescription medicines and medical marijuana. With proper cannabis use, these side effects are significantly decreased.
Considering the estimation that over 50% of NFL players partaking in cannabis use, maybe the league will sit down and take a closer look at their policies. Hopefully one day we will see the NFL remove marijuana from their drug testing practices as long as it’s being consumed legally.
Watch the full video here: ESPN