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NFL Owners Agree To Consider Letting Players Use Medical Marijuana

The NFL's new chief medical officer says marijuana could be "really important" in treating short-term and chronic pain.

Tony Overman/MCT/NewscomTony Overman/MCT/NewscomThe National Football League is back in action this weekend—if you count preseason games as "action"—after taking a tiny step toward maybe, possibly, someday letting players use marijuana to treat pain.

NFL owners agreed to work together with the NFL Players Association on a study to determine the effectiveness of marijuana as a medical treatment. Yes, there have already been numerous studies on the medical value of marijuana—29 states have legalized the drug for that reason—but this seemingly small step is a pretty big shift for the league, which has always maintained a strict prohibitionist stance on pot.

"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," Allen Sills, a Vanderbilt University neurosurgeon hired earlier this year to be the NFL's chief medical officer, said in an interview with The Washington Post. Sills said examining the feasibility of players using marijuana to manage the pain that comes from repeated full-speed collisions with other muscle-bound athletes was "really important" to players' long term health.

While the NFL has never allowed players to use marijuana for any reason—the players' union is also reportedly seeking reduced punishments for recreational use as well—there is a well-documented history of teams handing out pharmaceutical pain-killers by the handful. 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.

"The medicine being pumped into these guys is just killing people," former player Nate Jackson told Rolling Stone last year, as part of an excellent piece on the league's nonsensical marijuana rules and how they've led to an over-reliance on opioids.

The NFL's slowly changing stance on the issue comes a few months after Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys' owner and possibly the most powerful billionaire in the NFL's inner circle of powerful billionaires, floated the idea of loosening the ban on marijuana.

Much as it pains me to admit it, Jones is absolutely right. The NFL's anti-marijuana stance simply doesn't make sense as more state governments adopt more liberal views toward medical and recreational weed. A player on the Seattle Seahawks or Denver Broncos (or any of the California-based teams in the league) can buy and use marijuana legally in the state where he spends most of his time during the season, but could face a suspension and a fine if he's caught with it in his system.

Twenty of the 32 NFL teams play in states where medical marijuana is legal. This, too, mirrors the society-wide debate over the relationship between legal recreational weed and employment contracts that prohibit the use of marijuana. The league, and individual teams, are within their rights to require certain behavior from their players as a condition of employment, of course, but given the NFL's troubled history with punishing more serious offenses like, say, serial sexual assaults or domestic violence by star players, enforcing an absolute prohibition against marijuana use seems like it should be a lesser priority.

Sills seems to recognize the NFL is both influenced by the changing views on marijuana in society, and in a position to reinforce that shift.

"These really aren't just football issues," Sills told the Post. "These are society issues, right? We know right now that as a society that the treatment of both acute and chronic pain is a huge public health problem.

"But I think that we in professional sports are in a unique position to help inform the public and to do research and really advance our state of understanding about this issue," he added.

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  • Jerryskids||

    As an added bonus, letting the players toke away allows the NFL to claim all the brain damage the players have is a chronic condition rather than a result of repeated blows to the head. If they'd let the players snort coke, they could muddle the "blow to the head" issue even further.

  • Libertarian||

    "Blow to the head." I see what you did there.

  • ||

    The players already use every known drug there is so they can play with injuries-why not pot?-and coke?

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    short-term and chronic pain.

    So in other words, pain.

  • Sevo||

    There's Kaep, losing the ball again.
    But no one will hire him since he won't stand up or something.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    Every day that goes by that Paperneck is unemployed, the JournoList outrage machine gets dialed up another notch.

    If the Dolphins don't sign him, they might completely lose it.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    And shortly after I wrote that, the fins ended up getting Cutler instead of Paperneck. So look out!

  • AlmightyJB||

    Girlfriend is helping

  • Sevo||

    Who knows? As pathetic as he is, maybe she's a better QB.

  • Longtobefree||

    Yes, there have already been numerous studies on the medical value of marijuana

    But none that have been read by the federal government; that would require them to take it off of schedule one.

  • ||

    Jerry Jones support will do more to move the ball of legalization down the field in Texas than just about anything else, especially if the NFL allows it and the Cowboys are at a competitive disadvantage to teams in legal states.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If they make marijuana okay for pain, it won't be because of anything to do with medical research or science.

    It's absurd the way the NFL tarnishes their own brand by exposing their own players to public humiliation through drug testing.

    It's bad enough if the fans already think your teams are full of thugs--why feed into that by testing your own players and publishing it in the media?

    They're hurting their own brand. That's what this is about: Should we stop shooting ourselves in the foot?

  • SQRLSY One||

    OK, so now that we're at least TALKING about our sports super-heroes being allowed to toke up...

    HOW LONG till our military super-heroes are allowed to toke up? As is, multi-combat-tour veterans who get all stressed out and PTSDed out, and toke a toke or two, may get busted and get their bennies taken away! Kicked out for disobeying the Emperor or some such! "Bad paper" makes it much harder for them to then find a job! For smoking as joint! What gives?!?!?

    (Advice to young people... Do NOT sign up for being cannon fodder!!! They talk a good game about respecting you, and do NOT really give ONE tiny flip!)

  • SQRLSY One||

    If'n ye are in the military, please read and heed… And SCRATCH YOUR HEAD at so-called "military logic"!

    Don't EVER tell them, or otherwise let them know, that you have smoked a joint! Else this is what they will effectively or literally say to you:

    "Well, we're going to have to let you go, now, and give you "bad paper" (bad-conduct discharge). Because, you see, now that we KNOW that you've smoked a joint, we are afraid that you are susceptible to pressures from an enemy agent… Enemy agent will go up to you and say, "Give me USA military secrets, or I will tell your bosses that you've smoked a joint". And we are afraid you'd cave in, and spill all of your and our secrets! … So, since you clearly can NOT be trusted with a secret-decoder-ring security clearance, you're of no more value to us. Here is your pink slip, minus bennies, you disobedient criminal! And good luck with your PTSD, and finding another job."

    (Assuming they don't just put you in jail, here).

  • AlmightyJB||

    Personally I wouldn't tell the government if I smoked pot, not would I apply for medical mj. They will just use it as an excuse to violate my 2nd amendment rights. I may toke once every few years but I would continue to buy on black market before I would give government that info. You're always better off not asking permission.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yup-yup-yo, gotcha, and I do agree...

    But you see the absolute idiocy of the military, the circular non-logic? Comparison; try this one for size:

    "Now that we've learned that you are black, we have to let you go. We are afraid that an enemy spy might compromise your integrity, by threatening to tell us that you are black!"

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, hence the old saying Military Intelligence is an oxymoron.

  • AlmightyJB||

    What kind of message does this send the children who look up to these players. Why does the NFL hate children? /average American idiot.

  • SusanM||

    If this means they'll replace that stupid kazoo song with Smoke on The Water, then I'm all for it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I'm also partial to Low Rider which always makes me think of Cheech n Chong.

  • SQRLSY One||

    It's me, Dave! Now open up!!!

    Dave? Dave? DAVE!?!?!?

    Yeah, it's me! Dave! Now open up!

    Dave? Dave? DAVE!?!?!?

    Yeah, it's me! Dave! Now open up!

    Dave's not here!!!

  • AlmightyJB||

    People's Republic of California have a new state flag.

    http://hotair.com/archives/201.....y-liberal/

  • Sevo||

    Anybody awake at the office, or is that part of the new 'approvals'?

    "'Nissan, you made us mad': union promises to fight Mississippi defeat"
    [...]
    "Nissan workers in Canton, Mississippi, voted against unionizing on Friday by a margin of 2,244 to 1,307."
    https://www.theguardian.com /us-news/2017/aug/05/ mississippi-nissan-workers-vote-against-union

    "Venezuela Claims to Control `Attack' at Military Base"
    [...]
    "Venezuela's ruling socialist party said that an "attack" by "mercenaries" early on Sunday at a military base in the central city of Valencia had been defeated and several people detained."
    https://www.msn.com /en-nz/news/world/venezuela-claims-to-control-60 attack-at-military-base/ar-AApyT0X

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Wait, so you're telling me we have to let a girl named Mary-Jane into the NFL now?

    This is the exact sort of SJW Feminazi social engineering that the Fake Libertarians at TReason and their fellow travelers in the JournoList are constantly trying to shove down The People's throats. This website has turned into just another Progressive Socialist propaganda rag for cocktail party attendees. The TReason editors can go suck eggs.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "we have to let a girl named Mary-Jane into the NFL now?"

    Not to play. To make sandwiches. I bet you feel silly now.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Being an Alt-Right troll means never having to realize you're a parody of yourself.

  • Longtobefree||

    Yes. But she makes you feel really good.
    And she can scramble the egg so you do not have to suck.

  • Sevo||

    Maybe I missed it today.
    Did Japan hold a celebration for the millions of Japanese saved by the nukes?

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Always classy to go on and on about that.

  • Sevo||

    "Always classy to go on and on about that."

    Yeah, it's a real shame when someone points out that the nukes saved millions of lives, isn't it?
    I guess we should just let fools like you enjoy history filled with lies. So comforting, right?

  • Longtobefree||

    Yep. at the same time as the USA celebrated the 4.5 million servicemen who did not take part in the invasion of the home islands.

  • damikesc||

    Whatever it takes to solve their concussions problem, I guess.

  • damikesc||

    Quite bluntly, I WANT athletes to be shot up so full of steroids that their arteries are on the verge of explosions.

    See, the players health is exceptionally low on my list of concerns. They are adults. They don't need ME watching out for them.

    Hell, if they want players shooting heroin on the sidelines, fine. Watching them flop around after an OD might be amusing.

  • lap83||

    "Watching them flop around after an OD might be amusing"

    Yes, they're adults but that is kind of fucked up

  • damikesc||

    Curse of adulthood. Idiots are free to be idiots.

  • Longtobefree||

    Of course, with the medical monitoring of their trainers, they will not overdose. Just a nice clean injection to achieve the desired medical result.

  • David M||

    Maybe the NFL chief medical officer & owners are unaware of the word "neuroprotectant" & US patent #6630507. I know they know the word "concussion" & the acronym "CTE". How long do you think it will take for them to connect the dots. If you haven't yet, consider yourself badly uninformed- aka "ignorant"- educate yourself & others. Wtf does Kapernick have to do with this article?

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: NFL Owners Agree To Consider Letting Players Use Medical Marijuana
    The NFL's new chief medical officer says marijuana could be "really important" in treating short-term and chronic pain.

    A lot of the players are already smoking the evil weed, so why not let eliminate the "no smoking" rule in the NFL?
    Oh, wait.
    That makes sense.
    My bad.

  • retiredfire||

    I don't think too many will argue that MJ is a "performance enhancer".
    Aren't those the drugs that are banned?

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