By Nick Muhl
January 29, 2015
What was once a somewhat taboo conversation topic, is now a hot debate among american citizens – Marijuana Legalization. Whether it’s local news talk radio, Nancy Grace on HLNtv, or at the family dinner table, the issue of marijuana legalization, recreational and medical, is now being discussed by practically every type of media, corporation, and american household.
The National Football league is no exception.
Earlier this week, three former NFL Players – Marvin Washington, Scott Fujita, and Brandon Ayanbadejo, published a joint article in the Huffington Post titled, “The NFL Needs to Rethink Marijuana”. In the article, the players call for Roger Goodell to begin supporting and allowing players to be prescribed and use medical marijuana. All three players are former Super Bowl Champions and published their joint statement just days before Super Bowl XLIX takes place in Arizona – a state where medical marijuana is legalized.
As mentioned in the article, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a brief statement last year, that he was willing to consider the medical use of marijuana by its players where it is legal. The players call to action for Goodell comes at a time when the league continues to search for solutions to the deteriorating health of players after their careers end.
The league is also facing additional pressure from many players and fans regarding the same issue after the suspension of such players like Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon and New England Patriots running back Legarrette Blount who have been suspended for “simply smoking a joint”. Last February, while live on ESPN, former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark claimed many of his former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates and many other players he knows, smoke pot both during and after the NFL season for multiple different reasons, health being the number one. Click here to see Ryan Clark’s Interview last February on Numbers Never Lie
Fujita, Jackson and Ayanbadejo cite the compound in marijuana known as Cannabidiol (CBD), which has the “scientific potential to create a neuroprotectant for the brain.” With the NFL and its players frantically searching for solutions to the head trauma players receive throughout their careers, many scientists agree that marijuana is the perfect solution to the NFL’s problems.
According to Dr. Barth Wilsey of the University of California San Diego Center for Medical Cannabis Research in a 2014 article with Men’s journal, “There are five studies that were congruent in finding smoking cannabis alleviated neuropathic pain, or pain due to nerve injury.” Wilsey believes that the compound known as THC found in marijuana, in addition to CBD, can relieve the neuropathic pain NFL players continue to have during and after their playing careers.
Almost half of the states have now legalized medical marijuana, and according tot the Drug Policy Alliance about 70 percent of Americans support the reform. HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”, which was cited in the player’s article, reports that between 50-60% of players currently use marijuana legally, most of them for the therapeutic effect.
Recently, President Obama has suspended much of the federal enforcement of marijuana policies in states that have legalized. The Commander-in-Chief also predicts many more states will pass legalization of medical marijuana within the next few years, “The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue. My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”
It will be interesting in the next few months and years to see if the NFL will adjust its marijuana policy as more and more states continue to pass legalization. While the issue is still in hot debate across the country, there remains the strong possibility that the NFL will become the first professional sports organization at its level to allow players to use medical marijuana. With commissioner Roger Goodell not shying away from the topic thus far, continued media coverage and pressure on the NFL’s stance could push them to make a final decision on the topic, sooner than later. In the eyes of Fujita, Washington, and Ayanbadejo and many other players and fans, the NFL shouldn’t squander it’s opportunity to become a leading activist and take a stance in supporting and improving the medical treatment of its current and former players and others who can medically benefit from its legalization.