NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't ready to take medical marijuana off the league's list of banned substances because the drug might be "negative to the health of our players," he told ESPN on Friday.
More from the man who suspended Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson–who's undergone two surgeries related to Crohn's disease–for 10 games as a result of his medical marijuana use:
"I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use," Goodell said. "Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players?
"Listen, you're ingesting smoke, so that's not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term. All of those things have to be considered.
"And it's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance, but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that is going to be something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road."
Aside from the apparent connection between marijuana and people who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia, there is no compound in cannabis worse for human beings–in the short term or the long term–than football itself. Marijuana will not tear your meniscus or your ACL or your MCL or your achilles tendon. Marijuana will not give you bursitis. Marijuana will not break your back or neck. Marijuana will not give you chronic traumatic encephalopathy. As for the carcinogenic effect: You don't even have to smoke it anymore!
How does Goodell not know these things? I have never run a sports league before. Maybe he genuinely lacks the time to read Reason.com on the merits of liberalizing cannabis laws and workplace policies. (Then again, I have to imagine he makes time for Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones, the league's loudest voice in favor of dropping the pot ban.) Goodell could also be setting the stage for negotiations with the players union in 2020. As Reason's Eric Boehm noted earlier this month, banned substances are part of the collective bargaining agreement.
Or perhaps Goodell's busy navigating the consequences of things the league does condone, and which are demonstrably more dangerous than marijuana. ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert reports that 1,800 former players are suing the NFL for "improper and deceptive prescription drug-distribution practices." The league is also on the hook for a billion dollars in benefits to retired players suffering from traumatic brain injury. Making those problems go away doesn't leave a lot of time for leisure reading. In which case, Goodell should just check out this video from Reason.tv: