The NFL’s Historic CBA on Marijuana
The NFL’s Historic CBA on Marijuana
The owners of the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to a new and historic CBA on February 20th, 2020. Both sides agreed the league would not suspend players for testing positive of marijuana for the next ten years. This agreement is a major deal because the NFL has a long history of suspending many players for using marijuana. It is one of a few leagues to punish players for using marijuana.
Please note this new CBA does not allow any use of any illegal substances. The NFL will suspend players for testing positive of any other drug.
The NFL often tries to be politically correct in the times or please a large number of fans. Money speaks volumes to owners around the league. For example, Colin Kapernick has not been signed by any team since his protest and many right-wing fans threaten to stop watching games if Colin returns to the league. I am not justifying their actions. I am simply explaining the owners’ point of view and the reasons for their actions. The league was strongly against marijuana for many decades.
The nation’s attitude towards marijuana has shifted in favor of legalization. Many states in the US have legalized the green leaf in recent years. The league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell and owners around the league are late to join the bandwagon. They want catch up to the times. It is more acceptable to use marijuana for medical or recreation use today than it was 20 years ago.
The NFL’s History on Marijuana
One of the biggest problems in sports is treating pain and injuries in sports. The recent opioid epidemic has shed a light on the addictive effects from opioids. Players are seeking natural medicines to heal injuries and relief pain. Players do not want to become addicted to opioids. Some have been seeking marijuana for a safer option for medical use.
The drug of choice for many players and team doctors is Toradol. The drug is basically a stronger aspirin, and is only intended for short-term use. Like many drugs, it has serious and life-threatening side effects if a person uses it for many days. The side effects of Toradol include heart attack, kidney damage, stomaching bleeding, and stroke.
Legal Problems With Other Drugs
Many lawsuits from former players claim team doctors and physicians did not disclose the side-effects from Toradol. The suits claim the NFL wanted team doctors to prescribe Toradol to mask pain and players were playing games without realizing they had serious injuries.
The NFL is now closely monitoring the use of Toradol, but some players do not prefer this drug for a prescription. Players were turning to ban substances like marijuana and facing suspensions. Team doctors are most likely to continue to prescribe other medicines than marijuana.
Many players use marijuana for relieving pain from the hits from the gridiron. Their bodies are constantly receiving punishment in practices and games. It is an inevitable factor of the sport, and coaches preach playing hard on every down. The new CBA also extends the regular season to 17 games. Players are taking more hits and getting more bruises every week.
I suspect marijuana use will quickly increase among players. That could be a reaction to the increase in games. More players may have a strong demand for a natural substance. Marijuana does not have any negative side-effects unlike Toradol. Players can use marijuana for long-term.
David Irving of the Dallas Cowboys retired at the young age of 25 because he disagreed with the NFL’s previous CBA. He has three suspensions for marijuana in his brief career in Dallas. He has now seeking reinstatement, and is preparing to play for the Cowboys in the 2020-2021 season. This new policy will keep him on the field regardless if he fails any drug tests for using marijuana.
The Board and Recovery
The NFL is also taking different steps to offer treatment instead of punishing players for substance abuse. The new CBA also has a board of medical professionals. They will determine if a player needs treatment.
This policy opens the door for players from certain cities and states to have an advantage over the competition. The Broncos, Chargers, Raiders, Rams, Redskins, and Seahawks have the opportunity to use marijuana for medical use and recreational use. Their bodies would feel a lot better than the competition on Sundays. The extra energy, confidence, and relief from pain may give them the edge in situations in games.
However, this advantage is a double-edged sword. Other teams without this advantage may complain to the league. Their players cannot get the same natural relief from marijuana like their competition. There is no guarantee that their states or the federal government will legalize marijuana before the new CBA expires.
Finally, the NFL has not fully accepted and progressed the use of marijuana by its players. The league will fine players for multiple offenses. They will not lose any time off the field. Their wallets will be less full after every paycheck.
These fines may lead to a system of pay for medical use. Some players may see the fines as a fee to use marijuana for medical use. Some players in the league prefer using it instead of drugs like Toradol. They would be happy to pay the fee to get better pain relief. Recently unretired NFL player, David Irving said he would rather use marijuana than become addicted to opioids.
The fines do not go directly to the NFL. The fines go to programs for retired players. The money goes to NFL Player Care Foundation and the Gene Upshaw Players Association’s Players Assistance Trust.
In addition, the NFL can only suspend a player if he refuses to take a drug test. This measure is preventing players from avoiding fines for failing additional drug tests. The NFL will randomly give test to players throughout the season.
The NFL’s new CBA is a step in the right direction. The league’s best players will stay on the field and help your team to win big games. However, the new CBA does not go far enough. The fines still put a negative stigma on a natural substance without any harm to the human body. I hope one day players can use marijuana to relieve pain from injuries without being punished by the league.
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