As we are about to enter the Super Bowl a new issue has been presented to the NFL, should players be able to use medical marijuana? It just so happens the two teams playing for Super Bowl XLVIII, Denver and Seattle, are in Colorado and Washington the only two states where marijuana is now legal recreationally as well as medically.
During a Super Bowl press conference Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked if the NFL has any plans to change their policy on marijuana with laws now changing around the country: “This has been something that has been asked several times and I’ll try to be as clear as I possibly can: It is still an illegal substance on a national basis.”
Goodell went on to say:
“It’s something that’s part of our collective bargaining agreement with our players. It’s questionable with respect to the positive impact but there is certainly some very strong evidence to the negative impacts, including addiction and other issues.”
“We’ll continue to follow the medicine,” he explained. “Our experts right now are not indicating we should change our policy in any way, we are not actively considering that at this point and time. But if it does down the road some time, that’s something we would never take off the table if we could benefit our players at the end of the day.”
As Goodell stated the rule is part of the players collective bargaining agreement, so even if the league wanted to make a change the rule most likely wouldn’t be changed until at least the end of this agreement which was signed in July of 2011 for 10 years. Im sure we all remember what a production that was. For a minute there it looked as though we wouldn’t have a season or at least would have a shortened one.
Come 2021 though don’t be surprised if this is a major issue. Not only with medical marijuana but if over the next few years more states decided to make marijuana recreationally legal, players will want the same rights as other citizens. Clearly as the laws change the professional world will have to as well, not only in the NFL but in all workplaces, which should help set precedences by which the NFL can take cues from when the time comes.
Goodell notes there are negative impacts to take into consideration such as addiction and other issues which he doesn’t specifically name. One would think that should the legality not be an issue and there being no performance enhancing qualities the NFL would have to take a similar stance as with alcohol and tobacco. nflevolution.com lists these as the NLF’s alcohol and tobacco policies:
- Alcohol and Tobacco – NFL Players, Coaches, and other employees are prohibited from endorsing, promoting, or appearing in advertisements for alcoholic beverages (including beer and wine) or tobacco products.
- Such endorsements could give young fans the impression that the use of alcohol or tobacco can improve athletic performance
- Alcohol is banned at all team facilities and team functions
- Players, Coaches, and other employees are prohibited from authorizing the use of their name, photograph, or any other aspect of their identity on packaging for alcoholic beverages (including beer and wine)
Like alcohol I would imagine marijuana would also be covered under the NFL’s policies and programs for substances of abuse. These policies can also be found on nflevolution.com.
Though the league and player association could agree to amend the current CBA, Goodell has made it clear they have no plans of that. As I mentioned before though, look for this to be a major issue in 2021 if the league tries to stick with it’s current policies in regards to marijuana in the next CBA.