NFLPA Facing Major Medicinal Marijuana Issues

By Mike Lucas 1-30-14

Marijuana or steroids, it’s all the same to the NFL Players Association.

NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith’s answer was consistent throughout his Super Bowl media week press conference when asked about players’ interest in using medicinal marijuana.

“I’ll be extremely blunt,” Smith accidentily blurted out when the first question about medicinal marijuana was asked. The response drew laughs from the audience. Smith went on to explain the NFL views all drugs the same, whether it’s a recreational or a performance enhancing drug.

“The framework for our discussions with the National Football League on any drug whether it be medical marijuana or anything is really the drug policy,” said Smith. “The focus of our conversation so far haven’t been about one off issue like medical marijuana, it’s been how do we close the deal on what we believe is the gold standard for a drug program in professional sports.”

DeMaurice Smith, NFL Player Representative

DeMaurice Smith, NFL Player Representative

The gold standard is a tall task, but the NFL has been able to minimize the number of player suspensions resulting from illegal substances. More often than not, the suspensions the NFL hands out are from alcohol abuse. The NFL’s drug policy changes on an annual basis, but Smith thinks it is about as good as it gets.

“We have done things in this policy that no other policy has ever done,” said Smith. “It’s championed transparency. It’s championed following the science. It’s championed finding a specific standard as it relates to football players in this context and it also envisions a world where we can modify that.”

Smith went on to hammer home his transparency point, saying that is the reason why the NFL drug policy is so successful.

The discussion of medicinal marijuana came to the forefront earlier this week when Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll said the NFL should explore medical marijuana if it helps players.

“We have to continue to explore and compete to find ways that are going to make our game a better game and take care of our players in the best way possible,” Carroll said in a press conference on Monday.”Regardless of what other stigmas may be involved, I think we have to do this because the world of medicine is trying to do the exact same thing and figure it out and they’re coming to some conclusions.”

Marijuana may not remain taboo forever. NFL Commissioner Roger Godell has said in interviews the league should consider the benefits of medicinal marijuana for players. The issue is sure to create heated discussion during off season meetings between the league and players union.