NFL

Former NFL Players Say League Should Allow Players to Use Marijuana to Treat Pain, Injuries

Former player: If there's any sport or league that should be leading the way in experiments with cannibis, of course it's the NFL.

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Duncan Williams/Cal Sport Media/Newscom

Medical marijuana has been legalized in 29 states, but it remains illegal for professional football players to use as a treatment for injuries and chronic pain.

That doesn't mean players in the National Football League aren't using the drug. Quite the opposite. Eben Britton, who retired in 2014 after seven years in the NFL and who has admitted to playing games while high on marijuana and painkillers, estimates that more than half of the players in NFL locker rooms are using marijuana recreationally, or to treat injuries and control pain. During a discussion hosted by Herb.co, a marijuana culture website, Britton talked about his experience using marijuana versus using opioids and other pain-killers.

"I would take these pills and I would feel insane," Britton says. The opioids made him feel "more depressed, more helpless, more pissed off."

Britton's assessment of widespread marijuana use in the NFL is supported by other players' experience. In a survey conducted earlier this year by BudTrader.com, an online medical marijuana marketplace, 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).

That tracks pretty closely with how the rest of the country feels about medical marijuana. 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. As Steve Chapman wrote earlier today here at Reason, legal marijuana is becoming the norm.

The NFL has never allowed players to use marijuana for any reason—though league officials and the head of the NFL's players' union have begun discussing the possibility of allowing players to use the drug for medical purposes. But there is a well-documented history of teams handing out pharmaceutical pain-killers by the handful.

Several former players are suing the NFL, alleging that official team doctors ignored federal laws for prescription drugs and disregarding medical guidance by handing out piles of opioids and other painkillers before, during, and after games.

"I've seen plenty of guys leave the game addicted to pain pills. I've never seen anyone leave the game addicted to marijuana," says Marvin Washington, who played 11 seasons in the league and participated in the Herb.co discussion.

The NFL's position on marijuana could soon change. Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys' owner and possibly the most powerful billionaire in the NFL's inner circle of powerful billionaires, has floated the idea of loosening the NFL's ban on marijuana. And Allen Sills, the league's new chief medical officer, is interested in researching how marijuana could be used to help players manage their pain.

"Certainly the research about marijuana and really more particularly cannabinoid compounds as they may relate to the treatment of both acute and chronic pain, that is an area of research that we need a lot more information on and we need to further develop," Sills, a Vanderbilt University neurosurgeon, said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Despite overwhelming public support, and evidence the NFL's ban is no preventative, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has remained unmoved. Goodell suspended Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson last year for using medical marijuana to treat Crohn's disease, even though Henderson had a prescription for it.

"I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use," Goodell said during an April interview with ESPN. "Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players?"

During the Herb.co discussion with other former players, Washington specifically called out Goodell for those comments.

"My thing is, what about the long term effects of football on their health?," says Washington. "If there's any sport or league that should be leading the way in experiments with cannibis, of course, it's the [NFL]."

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56 responses to “Former NFL Players Say League Should Allow Players to Use Marijuana to Treat Pain, Injuries

  1. “I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said during an April interview with ESPN. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players?”

    This guy has a future in the DEA.

  2. I take a knee every morning to protest the lack of access of NFL players to marijuana.

    1. “Take a knee”, or “take a toke”?

  3. So a league that makes money by its players hitting each other as hard as they can is worried about them smoking pot?

    Okay!

    1. Goodell doesn’t want his players to end up with brain damage from smoking too much of the wacky weedus. He wants them to get it the old fashioned way?decades of subconcussive impacts.

      1. But marijuana isn’t going to help the physics problem the NFL has.

        Large bodies colliding at increasingly faster speeds isn’t going to be helped by pot or any other drug.

  4. I realize the NFL is pretty big, but I don’t think they are the biggest barrier to players smoking weed. You know, laws and stuff?

    On the other hand, if the NFL does change it’s policy, the Seahawks and Broncos may have an advantage when it comes to salary negotiations.

    1. Like it’s any harder to get where it’s illegal?

      1. Really. I mean how can they possibly afford it?

  5. i will personally recommend weed for player the need for pain relieve .
    follow interesting stories on https://www.weedpandashop.com

  6. You know what else cures pain? Not doing the stupid shit that involves getting injured to begin with. You know? Like playing football?

    Employers shouldn’t be bale to dictate what people put in their bodies. It’s their body!

    1. Freedom of association and contract means the right to not hire dope-addled employees.

      1. You’re a fossil, and soon you’ll be dead and your atrocious ideas with you.

        1. Freedom to set the terms and conditions of employment is an “atrocious idea”? That marijuana is rotting your brain, hippie.

          1. Freedom for employers to be violent, and abusive, as long as their freedom of association is upheld? I agree with the guy above, the world will be better when passive aggressive, violent people like you are gone.

            1. The world will be better when we live by the NAP

              1. Either that or kill all the communists.

      2. Go to apply with a railroad and they require you to give them body hair for drug testing, don’t like it-get a job somewhere else. Plenty of employers can make demands on employees for a wide variety of reasons (airline pilots can’t show up for work drunk or stoned). Nobody owes you a job and they can attach conditions to your employment, you don’t have to take the job if you find that onerous.

  7. According to Gallup’s latest polling, support for legalizing recreational marijuana is at 60 percent…

    And are those 60 percent going to cover the lost income of all the interests who make a living off of prohibition? No? Then forget it.

    1. I can’t wait for the DEA to put out a paper detailing the impact to the livelihood of drug dealers that the end of prohibition entails

      1. “‘We Just Weren’t Ready’: Chicago Medical Examiners Share Their Stories Of Loss And Hardship In A CNN Exclusive Investigative Series”

  8. I only have one concern about this. Pain is usually an indicator that something is wrong. I worry that more severe damage will occur because the players aren’t aware of exactly how bad they might be hurt. And before you jump me about precautionary principle, I feel the same about all pain meds. It’s a concern, not a dealbreaker.

    1. The poor players might think theyt just “smoked themselves retarded” when it’s really brain damage.

  9. Medical marijuana has been legalized in 29 states, but it remains illegal for professional football players to use as a treatment for injuries and chronic pain.

    Only in the same way it is ilegal for everyone else. You cosmos like to pretend the NFL is some sort of 21st Century slave-plantation.

    1. “…You cosmos…”

      Oh, look! SIV tries and succeeds once again in proving he’s a fucking ignoramus!
      Way to go SIV!

  10. OT:
    “Chemical industry insider now a top EPA hazards watchdog ”
    […]
    “The chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, has been linked to kidney cancer, birth defects, immune system disorders and other serious health problems.
    —————-
    Note the ‘has been linked to’ bullshit; that translates into ‘we can’t find a single bit of cuasal evidence but we think it’s ikky’.
    —————–
    “The chemical safety law was passed after Congress and the chemical industry reached a consensus that toxic chemical threats ? or at least the fear of them ? were so severe that they undermined consumer confidence in products on the market.”
    —————
    So the fear is sufficient to direct policy; chicken little writ stupid.
    ————–
    [under the old rules] “…environmentalists got assurances that new chemicals would be evaluated on health and safety risks alone, not financial considerations”
    ————-
    Cost/benefit? Who cares? If it might possibly save ONE life, well…
    ————
    https://www.seattle times.com/nation-world/chemical- industry-insider-now-a-top-epa- hazards-watchdog/

  11. The NFL players should piss on the American flag every day until the league adopts more rational drug policies!

  12. A Guardian writer femisplains it all for us

    “The only thing that’s surprising is how many of the men who have long abused their power have gotten away with it in part by hiding it behind a sheen of progressive politics and claims of feminism….

    “Yes, it’s hypocrisy, but it’s something more than that. Male feminists have long been a joke for both the right and the left. The alt-right, filled with men who identify as alpha or beta, call them cucks, meaning they are so far down on the scale of hierarchical masculinity they fall below women.

    “On the left, there was such a widespread understanding that men who self-identify as feminists were doing it mostly to get laid that even Saturday Night Live has done a skit about it. They were performing as sensitive allies, but this was just to hide a darker truth: that men have not encountered feminism at all….

    “Feminism should be a spiritual awakening for men; it should be a revelation of the ways they have participated in the oppression of women in both public and private spheres.

    “It should show them the parts of themselves, their own feminine nature and their capacity for compassion and vulnerability, that they have dismissed as mere weakness, that need to be reclaimed. It is a psychological ? even a spiritual ? project, not merely a political one.

    “And until it is, feminism might as well not exist for men…”

    1. The alt-right, filled with men who identify as alpha or beta, call them cucks, meaning they are so far down on the scale of hierarchical masculinity they fall below women

      She did not look up what cuck means.

      1. Wait, what? Women can read?

        1. If men bought more books, we wouldn’t need literate women…but as it is, women are upholding much of what’s left of the book trade.

          1. Which is why we’d be better off if we just entered a dark age and let a handful of homos in remote monasteries cull the chaff for a few centuries to a millenium

            1. OK, but how do we know it was chaff it it didn’t survive?

              1. Check the palimpsests. If you find some wheat in there, it survived!

  13. “A public option would stabilize Obamacare without adding to the national debt,” by U. S. Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO)

    “After winning full control of Congress and the White House last year, Republicans tried three separate times to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with proposals that gave tax cuts to the wealthy and special interests, while cutting health care for the most vulnerable.

    “Upon taking office, President Donald Trump decided to weaken the ACA through sabotage….

    “Back in 2010, I voted for the ACA as an imperfect step to improve health care in America. Today, the number of Coloradans without health insurance is at an all-time low of 6.5 percent….

    “Across our state, I hear horror stories of astronomical drug prices, confusing insurance bills, and exhausting searches for in-network providers. In rural areas especially, Coloradans tell me their few options for insurance come with deductibles so high they are practically useless. Clearly, we need more choice and competition in our health care system to bring down costs and increase transparency.

    “Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and I have introduced legislation that begins to do this. Our proposal creates a public option that allows people to buy into the proven model and provider network of Medicare….”

    1. This sabotage narrative irks me in many ways. He probably did do it to hurt the ACA, but the fact that people don’t recognize that massive subsidies are required to prop it up, and that this might mean it’s not as healthy as people say, blows my mind. It’s incredibly unanalytical.

      1. I suspect that they set this up so that they could point to the problems and say, “see? we *told* you we have to have Medicare for all!”

        In other words, I can’t stand it, because I know they planned it.

    2. “Coloradans tell me their few options for insurance come with deductibles so high they are practically useless.”

      So tell me again how important the “all time low of 6.5% uninsured” is? Insurance you cannot use is NOT insurance, it is a legally mandated expense.

    3. What the Colorado senator left out was that it was illegal for people that were contract labor or self employed to own health insurance in’ till around 1998.

    4. “Upon taking office, President Donald Trump decided to weaken the ACA through sabotage….

      “Sabotage” meaning “enforcing legislation as written”.

      Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and I have introduced legislation that begins to do this. Our proposal creates a public option that allows people to buy into the proven model and provider network of Medicare….”

      As always, government fucks something up so royally the only “possible” solution is more government.

  14. Marijuana legalization foes ask Delaware task force for concessions

    “The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, for instance, wants strong language that would allow employers to adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the workplace.

    “The chamber also wants employers to be exempt from paying unemployment compensation when a worker tests positive for marijuana and is dismissed. And it wants businesses to be granted immunity from lawsuits filed by workers under the influence of marijuana who injure people or damage property while on the job….

    “[Rep. Helene M.] Keeley [D-Wilmington South] said she would be willing to provide the immunity and exemptions sought by the state chamber. But she would rather see those concessions granted to employers in all cases involving chemically impaired workers, including those who have consumed alcohol and other drugs.

    “I want it to be fair so that we’re not just targeting cannabis but any drug that would impair someone’s ability to do their job,” she said….

    “Many believe the task force’s final report could bolster or sink efforts to pass legislation that would make Delaware the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana possession and use.”

  15. Who was the baseball player who pitched a no-hitter high on acid?

    1. All the famous ones?

    2. Doc Ellis

      1. Performance enhancing drugs FTW!

  16. If you hurt so bad you need full time drugs, you need to retire.

    THEN you should smoke the devil weed.

    1. This or maybe a governed facility where they can only take the weed supervised.

      1. Where the hell is the fun in THAT??

        You act like it is only for pain relief or something.
        The other reason for supervision would be to be sure the munchies do not seduce them off training menus.

  17. I think the league should look into the question of allowing players to hit the quarterback. Or, as Terry Bradshaw suggested, make the quarterbacks wear skirts if you’re going to treat them like little girls.

      1. You misspelled “knickers”.

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  20. If other half of the players already use it, it isn’t proving to be terribly effective. And using it before games seems to be an incredibly bad idea. But their sport is not long for the world anyway,

    1. Don’t plan your retirement fund around betting on that. Boxing still exists as a paying business.

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