At the beginning of this year the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) announced that it would be proposing a ‘less punitive’ NFL cannabis policy. Details of exactly what that would look like have still yet to surface. That announcement has since been followed by an announcement earlier this month that the National Football League (NFL) has expressed an interest in working with the NFLPA to explore the idea of allowing medical cannabis use for pain management. Per the Washington Post:
The NFL has written to the NFL Players Association offering to work in tandem to study the potential use of marijuana as a pain management tool for players, according to people familiar with the situation.
It is the clearest indication to this point that the league may be willing to work cooperatively with the union toward such marijuana use, which is currently banned by the sport.
The NFLPA is conducting its own study and, according to those familiar with the deliberations, is yet to respond to the NFL’s offer to cooperate on marijuana-related research.
The Uncle Cliffy team endorsed the idea of medical cannabis legalization in the NFL at the time of both announcements, but made sure to make it clear that such a league policy change should be seen as a step in the right direction, and not as a permanent solution. If only medical cannabis use were to be allowed by the NFL, it would not eliminate the institutional racism that is perpetuated by the NFL’s current policy of suspending players when they are arrested for cannabis. Highlighting the issue is the case of Green Bay Packers receiver Geronimo Allison, who was suspended by the NFL after cannabis was found in his car by law enforcement during a traffic stop away from the team.
Nationally, African Americans are almost four times as likely to be arrested for cannabis compared to Caucasians, even though consumption rates are relatively the same between races. In Wisconsin, African Americans are six times as likely to be arrested for cannabis. So if an African American NFL player (such as Geronimo Allison) is six times as likely to be arrested for cannabis off the field, then they are also six times as likely to be suspended by the NFL because of cannabis. Allowing medical cannabis use in the NFL would not fix that issue.
With that being said, the Uncle Cliffy team still supports what the NFL is doing and hopes that it results in some meaningful results. Allowing players to use cannabis for pain management is an outstanding improvement on the current NFL cannabis policy. The always outspoken owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, also supports what the NFL is doing, per an article by NBC Sports:
“I agree with what the NFL is doing,” Jones said in his Hall of Fame press conference. “There is real fertile ground there. It is a labor issue that like several things, not just that one, I understand the sensitivity about that particular issue. A lot of people would disagree it’s a labor issue, but that’s the way these things work. A lot of things get thrown in that hat. The fact we’re discussing it, it’s no secret the Players Association have wanted to discuss that area and do better in that area.
“I think that’s accurate that we should have it as something to improve on. The problem I’m having here is I do not know what is the definition of improvement, but we can all do better here.”
Jerry Jones did not want to go into the particulars of what an NFL policy should look like in an ideal situation, but the Uncle Cliffy team thinks that the solution is clear – free the plant. The Uncle Cliffy team has been calling for, and will continue calling for, a complete end to cannabis prohibition in the NFL. Cannabis is safer than alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs, substances which the NFL widely embraces. Cannabis is legal for adult-use in eight states and Washington D.C., and will soon be legal in many more states.
It’s time that the NFL looked at the facts and allowed science and compassion determine the league’s cannabis policy, and not outdated political views. Cannabis prohibition is harmful, both in society and in professional sports. The Uncle Cliffy team would like to (again) give a big hat tip to Jerry Jones for speaking out in support of this important issue.
image via NBC