Cannabis has always been prohibited for players in the NFL, but is that reality about to change?

Having formally written to the NFL Players Association, the NFL seem to be open to taking a closer look at how medical cannabis could help athletes to control their pain.

The move came around after the players association began conducting its own independent study on the potential medical benefits of cannabis.

Step in Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, who told reporters, “We look forward to working with the Players Association on all issues involving the health and safety of our players.”


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Meanwhile, DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA’s executive director, told reporters that the union was looking into a far “less punitive” approach to cannabis use by its players, “I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate. I think it’s important to look at whether there are addiction issues. And I think it’s important to not simply assume recreation is the reason it’s being used,” he said.

Smith noted that there are a number of issues with players taking cannabis, not least the dichotomy between those taking it for recreational purposes versus those taking it for medicinal purposes. “How do you make sure that you address any potential addiction issue? Because I’ve read the literature on both sides,” Smith asked.

For years now, the NFL has tested its players regularly for cannabis, with stiff penalties for them if they proved positive. However, since 2014 those penalties were relaxed in terms of the threshold for what now constitutes ‘over the limit.’ These days, 35 nanograms of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) per milliliter of urine or blood is counted as a positive.

While there’s no big moves as yet, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. Especially for NFL athletes who would prefer to use medical cannabis to treat their pain and stress issues, rather than addictive and often harmful prescription medications.

[Image credit- Flickr]

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