The NFL needs to either get with the times or continue to face widespread backlash from its players. This was only magnified on election night when two more states where the NFL houses teams, California and Massachusetts, legalized marijuana for recreational use.
This now means that seven different NFL teams (just less than one quarter of the 32 that make up the NFL), now play in states where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use.
All this comes on the heels of former Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Eugene Monroe continuing to take on the NFL’s drug policy publicly. It also comes with the United States changing its perception of the drug.
More than that, it comes at a time when the NFL itself has continued to face fierce backlash over its dependency on painkillers over an alternative many believe to be healthier, players included.
Now comes this report from Mark Maske of The Washington Post indicating that the NFLPA will study marijuana as a potential pain management tool.
Not only that, Maske was able to get NFLPA assistant executive director George Atallah to talk about the trend we’ve seen in this nation and how it might impact league drug policy.
“We are actively looking at the issue of pain management of our players,” Atallah said. “And studying marijuana as a substance under that context is the direction we are focused on.”
Though, that definitely didn’t come without a caveat.
“Marijuana is still governed by our collective bargaining agreement,” he continued. “And while some states have moved in a more progressive direction, that fact still remains.”
There’s a few different things to look at here, and a lot of it takes some nuance.
Atallah is 100 percent correct in concluding that the league’s collective bargaining agreement governs its drug policy. Short of a change in that regard and help from the powers to be within the NFL, any potential change in the policy can be thrown out the window.
Some might argue that it’s unfair for players to be banned from using a substance when its legal in the state they’re employed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold much ground.
Employers throughout the United States are allowed to test for marijuana and other substances that are legal. They can also fire individuals for positive tests. This is no different when it comes to the NFL’s substance abuse policy, especially when the 32 teams are governed under the one league.
With all that said, this is definitely a concrete step for proponents of allowing players to use medical marijuana. And in reality, Tuesday’s election places the question back on the front burner.