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NFL Considers Options for Medical Use of Marijuana

Recently leaked news out of the National League has confirmed that the ultra-conservative league, faced with the growing acceptance of legal marijuana, is considering lifting its ban on the use of cannabis by players. The foremost issue is ironing out the complicated details with marijuana still illegal at the federal level.

NBC’s Pro Football Talk recently reported that the NFL is considering changes to its policy on marijuana, which currently may be a complete ban when it puts together subsequent negotiation agreement with players. The present agreement lasts through the top of the 2020 season.

The site reported that “per a league source, the NFL is ready to form major concessions regarding the substance-abuse policy, especially because it relates to marijuana.”

As slow-moving because the NFL is, it’s apparently faster than the U.S. Congress in changing its approach to cannabis, now legal in 33 states for either recreational or medical purposes.

Current Policy, Past Players

As things stand, the NFL prohibits the utilization of marijuana by its players, disregarding the various former players who have begun in favor of marijuana. Some are proponents of using marijuana as an alternative to opioids in handling pain, something every NFL player experiences to at least one degree or another.

Among those that have begun in favor of marijuana use for pain management is Joe Montana, the legendary quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers (and Kansas City Chiefs, but almost so legendarily).

Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures recently was a part of a $75 million investment during a California company that runs a marijuana farm, mercantile establishment, distribution center, and delivery service. Montana has said for years that he believes marijuana can provide relief for those affected by pain without having to use opioids.

He’s not alone. Ricky Williams, the previous Miami Dolphin back who was treated like an outcast for his cannabis use during his playing days, has started his own cannabis business. Other NFL players who advocate for marijuana are Franco Harris and Jack Ham, both members of the famous Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970s.

Why Change?

Certainly, the league has been influenced both by all the previous stars advocating for marijuana and therefore the incontrovertible fact that medical marijuana is legal in most states. However, marijuana may be a complex issue for the NFL. Crafting a marijuana policy is difficult for the NFL because Congress has not removed marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, and it’s unlikely it’ll with Republicans controlling the Senate.

Marijuana is regulated by a patchwork of state laws, which leaves the NFL during a difficult spot. They might simply allow players to use marijuana under the law of the state where their home team plays, but “plenty of free agents will flock to groups in states where it’s legal,” NBC reported. The league also has the choice of simply dropping mention of marijuana all at once from its list of banned drugs and not testing players for using cannabis.

All this came out as David Irving, a player for the Dallas Cowboys, announced he was quitting the league after getting suspended again for marijuana use. Irving announced his decision in an Instagram video as he smoked a joint, preaching the utilization of “plants over pills.”

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