Most National Football League players live with injury. They deal with constant pain from the sport they play at a level most of us can’t relate to as mere spectators of the sport. They also often turn to addictive, and damaging pharmaceutical pain killers in order to deal with injuries, and even sometimes to play – injured. But there is an arguably safer, though more controversial option for pain relief – marijuana.
Marijuana has been shown time and time again to help individuals overcome various levels of pain. Despite this, the NFL maintains a strong anti-marijuana stance, assigning long suspensions to players caught with weed. This outdated concept reflects that of our nation, even though cannabis offers a safer, more effective way for players to deal with pain. Fortunately, Harvard Medical School professor emeritus Dr. Lester Grinspoon is now urging the NFL to stop drug testing for THC in an open letter.
Grinspoon points out that not only can marijuana help with physical pain, but it also has neuroprotective properties which may aid players who often suffer debilitating concussions from play. His advice comes shortly after all-pro wide receiver Josh Gordon was found to have THC in his blood and now faces a possible year-long suspension. His and other player’s aim is to put medical marijuana use up for serious reform within the NFL.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano suggests that “when and if” the NFL announces a new drug test policy, it will increase the threshold at which THC triggers a positive result, while significantly reducing penalties for those who do test over the limit.
Some have pointed out that the World Anti-Doping Agency has a higher threshold for a positive THC test than the NFL currently does.
Numerous NFL players would like the NFL to look at the medical research that has helped lead to legalization of cannabis in numerous states, and to adjust their policies accordingly. There is unanimous agreement that something should be done in the meantime, and that the standoff over arbitration of discipline should not hold up reform.
The NFLPA has asked that discipline appeals be heard by an independent arbitrator. The NFL insists that the commissioner gets the final say over whether or not players can use medical marijuana. Hopefully, he will review the medical research and decide to amend his league’s outdated rules.