Like Most Americans, NFL Players Think They Should Be Allowed to Use Medical Marijuana

The NFL's opposition to legal medical pot (like the federal government's) increasingly runs against not only public opinion but common sense.


Dennis Schneidler/Icon Sportswire DFC/Dennis Schneidler/Icon Sportswire/Newscom

Like the vast majority of Americans who watch them on television every Sunday during the last four months of the year, an overwhelming majority of professional football players believe medical marijuana should be legal.

In a survey conducted by, an online medical marijuana marketplace, more than 150 current and former professional football players were asked for their experiences with various types of painkillers, including opioids and marijuana. Though marijuana is current banned by the National Football League, 68 percent of the current and former players polled said they had used marijuana (either for recreational or medical purposes) during their career, while 87 percent said they would use it if the league allowed it (and 89 percent said they believed it would be an effective treatment for pain and other ailments).

Sure, a business like has an interest in seeing medical marijuana more widely accepted and legalized, which is why they do polls like this. But their polling of NFL players matches with national attitudes towards medical marijuana, which is now legal in 29 states. A Quinnipiac University Poll conducted in February found support for medical marijuana at 93 percent nationwide, with large majorities cutting across all demographics. According to Gallup's latest polling, support for legalizing recreational marijuana is at 60 percent, the highest percentage recorded in the polling firm's 47 years of tracking that question.

The NFL's resistance to legal medical marijuana (like opposition in government from people like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Attorney General Jeff Sessions) increasingly runs against not only public opinion but common sense. Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, told ESPN last month that he supports a continued ban on marijuana because he thinks the drug could be "negative to the health of our players."

That's pretty laughable, as Reason's Mike Riggs pointed out last week, considering that NFL players are playing a sport that is demonstrably more dangerous to their health than marijuana is.

Add to that the fact that many NFL players are being loaded up with other forms of painkilling drugs, often dispensed by the same team doctors that are supposed to care first and foremost about the players' health. In the survey, 91 percent of players said they had taken opiate-based painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and propoxyphene. Additionally, 45 percent of players said they had felt pressured into taking those drugs by team doctors, staff, and teammates in order to get back on the field (68 percent say they have been concerned about their usage of painkillers, and 74 percent say they've had negative side effects from using them).

In fact, the NFL currently is fighting a lawsuit from several former players who allege that official team doctors literally handed out piles of opioids and other painkillers—ignoring federal laws for prescription drugs and disregarding medical guidance—before, during, and after games. Deadspin has all the details on the lawsuit, which includes several telling anecdotes about how team doctors allegedly hand out opioids like candy on NFL sidelines.

As I've written before, the NFL's anti-pot policy might make a degree of sense if it was part of an overall effort to prevent teams from using painkillers of any kind, lest some players or teams gain a competitive advantage on the gridiron. That's hardly the case, as the lawsuit and poll demonstrate.

A majority of states now allow medical marijuana as a treatment for at least some medical continues. It's time the NFL (and the federal government) get on board.

NEXT: Dear GOP: Tax Credits Are Not the Answer

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. OK, I’m for legalizing Marijuana in the broadest sense. It should be as freely bought and sold as, say, rosemary. Not regulated. Not tied up in miles of red tape. But I believe this because my observations over the decades of my life lead me to believe that the effects of government buttinskiism are worse then the effects of widely available, unregulated, pot.

    That said, I am less than convinced that ‘Medical Marijuana’ is anything but another ‘alternative medicine’ scam. I have, off and on, read a great deal of ‘pot could solve all our problems’ propaganda from the Pot Legalization agitators, and most of it strikes me as the flip side of the ‘Marijuana, the weed from Hell’ crap put out by the Prohibitionists. As for what NFL players think would be good for them, who cares? Oh, they should have access to legal pot. That doesn’t make their opinions about medical marijuana rational, important, or even worth referencing.

    This isn’t the way to argue for legalization. It is far too likely that looking into the facts will prove the arguments to be so much pigswill.


    Nick, you really are a fucking idiot.

    Where’s Beale’s 16 points you fucking coward. Just do one. Don’ worry, you get to keep the jacket and the cocktail parties.

    1. This is like the worst chat room ever.

  3. While I have no beef with marijuana…

    1) Stop with the medical bullshit. That is not remotely what the activists want.
    2) An employer is permitted to set terms of employment.

  4. Everyone should have the freedom to ingest if they like. However, their employer has a contract with them, approved by their union no less, and as libertarians we should honor that contract, right?

    If NFL players want to smoke pot *and* play football, they can form a league that does not have a restriction or work that issue in their next contract discussion with the NFL.

  5. Ben Davidson, call your office.

  6. Ben Davidson, call your office.

  7. An interesting problem. Some painkillers and similar drugs are banned because they are unhealthy — opioids can cause addiction and other problems, and can even be deadly. Steroids are really bad for you.

    But marijuana doesn’t carry those short-term dangers. Yes, it can adversely affect the brain over the long term, but in toto it’s no more dangerous than alcohol and rather less so than tobacco.

    Of course, if you use it too close to a game, it might throw your reactions off, but that’s your problem — not an unfair advantage.

  8. “Medical” marijuana is an artifact of prohibition. There is no more medical marijuana than there is medical gin or medical e-cigs. Begging for permission to control what one ingests is emblematic of slavery, when libertarians should be demanding freedom. Freedom-lovers should be taking their cues from Thomas Szasz, who unashamedly supported the right to drugs (and all intoxicants), and the abolition of prescription drug laws. It’s about freedom, not therapy.

  9. I wish to read more issues about it!|
    I have been surfing online more than 3 hours
    today, yet I by no means discovered any fascinating article like yours.
    It is pretty price sufficient for me. In my opinion,
    if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content as you did,
    the net might be a lot more helpful than ever before.|
    Ahaa, its good dialogue about this piece of writing here at this weblog, I have
    read all that, so now me also commenting at this place.|
    I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet visitors, its
    really really pleasant post on building up new blog.|
    Wow, this paragraph is nice, my sister is analyzing these things, thus I am going to tell her.|
    Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!|
    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and also the
    rest of the site is also very good.|
    Sent from Best Jvzoo Reviews

  10. The NFL unlike the Federal Government has every “right” to ban medical marijuana.
    The NFL is Limited by LAW
    The Federal Government is LIMITED by LAW and Constitutional Law.
    I would define LAW as essentially “do all you have agreed to do and do not encroach on other persons or their property”.
    Of course Constitutional Law is strict adherence to the guidelines laid out in the respective Article’s and Sections pertaining to the respective Branch and of course the CLEARLY DEFINED LIMITATIONS described in the first 10 Amendments mis-named the “Bill of Rights” (for they do not describe “rights” but they do describe very clearly what the Federal Government, their employees, and contractors can NOT rule on, legislate on, or decree on!)
    Where We The People seem to have surrendered to ignorance and obsfucation is that the OATH of OFFICE is a legal and binding contract.
    If you want to do anything for the people. Remind them that the Oath is a legal and binding contract to honor the Constitution AS WRITTEN!! Remember, it takes a successful Amendment Process to add to, subtract from, or alter the Constitution in ANY manner or form.
    As far as the hypocrisy that the NFL perpetuates in banning a natural substance in favor of synthetic, expensive drugs you need look no further than the financial reasons for the drug war and the protections provided by government for the pharmaceutical and “medical” industries.

    Money talks and bullshit walks.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.