With Football Season Looming, Will The NFL Reform It’s Marijuana Policies?

Image Credit:  Orlando Sentinel

Image Credit: Orlando Sentinel

What seems like an ongoing hot topic for the NFL is the concussion crisis the players are facing each time they set foot on the field. With more and more studies proving that the concussive and subconcussive impacts cause long term brain trauma, players and administrators are facing some tough decisions about the future of the NFL.

Just for some basic background information- the first NFL player to have retired because of post-concussion syndrome was Al Toon in 1992. One year later, Merrill Hoge retired for similar reasons. In 1994, then NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue approved the creation of the NFL’s Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Since then, there have been multiple other players to leave the sport for similar brain injuries or fear of possible injury.

Sadly, there have also been several cases of suicide where later evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) were present. Two former San Francisco 49ers, LB Chris Borland, 24 and OT Anthony Davis, 25 recently retired from the sport altogether due to potential brain injuries. Continued effort on the subject is ongoing as improvements and adjustments are made.

What are players saying about cannabis use during the season?

As the concern for the safety of the players continues to rise, more and more players are exploring and admitting to using marijuana to combat the symptoms of concussions. Sixteen current NFL players were recently interviewed about their views and personal use of marijuana.

All 16 players chose to not be identified. Who could blame them? We’ve all seen what happens when a player who lines up on the grass to take hits for his teammates on the field, and then takes a few hit of grass off the field. Enter Josh Gordon who was suspended from an entire season for testing positive on multiple drug tests. Out of the 16 players surveyed, 15 admitted to being regular marijuana users. Ten of the 15 said they use marijuana regularly (2-3 times per week).  Two other players estimated that around 70% of current NFL players use marijuana regularly. One player said that he doesn’t smoke but thinks 10-15% of the players do.

The last surveyed player refused to quantify a guess, but instead reported that the amount of players that partake in marijuana use is “a shitload”.

With approximately 1700 players in the NFL, those percentage estimates are rather large numbers. Using the surveyed player’s estimates, if 50% of the 1700 players are using marijuana on the 32 teams in the NFL, there are a 26 players on each team passing more than just a football.

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A retired Dirty Bird is raising his voice

Jamal Anderson, a former Atlanta Falcon, is speaking out about his experience with marijuana while in the NFL. “When I played, 40 to 50 percent of the league used it.” Anderson said recently. Anderson also went on to estimate that that percentage has risen to around 60% now, saying “That’s a bare minimum. That’s because players today don’t believe in the stigma that older people associate with smoking it. To the younger guys in the league now, smoking weed is a normal thing, like having a beer. Plus, they know that smoking it helps them with the concussions”. We’re wondering who will be the next player to speak up about why weed is more help than a hindrance?

So what now?

The 2016 NFL season is fast approaching and we’ll be following along to make sure we’re on top of all of the latest and greatest news. Current NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, has said “the league will follow the science when it comes to marijuana and the NFL”. We aren’t holding our breath on that one. The good news is that more and more research is being done to show evidence of the positive and healing qualities of medical marijuana. And let’s face it- a little more marijuana (because you know he blazes now!) would make Peyton Manning even funnier.

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