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
The Dallas Cowboys were the most valuable team in professional sports in 2016 according to Forbes, being valued at roughly 4 billion dollars. With some young, talented players on their roster, the Dallas Cowboys are likely to be worth even more in the future. The Cowboys are often referred to as ‘America’s team’ due to their popularity, and for NFL fans, you likely either love the Cowboys or you hate them.
The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, is one of the most high profile figures in the sports world. Mr. Jones has always been very outspoken, and never been one to shy away from controversy. Jerry is a larger than life figure and has been a staple of the NFL community for a long time. His opinion carries a lot of weight in the league. So it was a pleasant surprise when news broke early last month that Jerry Jones had expressed strong support for ending cannabis prohibition in the NFL.
Few details emerged from the meeting in which Jerry Jones had expressed support at, other than that it was a meeting for team owners, and that Jerry seemed very passionate about the need to reform the NFL’s cannabis laws. The news led to a lot of speculation and discussion, some constructive and some not. Clarification on the matter came today when Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones made extensive comments about the need to ‘heavily scrutinize’ the league’s cannabis policy and look for ways to better handle cannabis use by players. Per Dallas News:
“I think Jerry’s opinion, my opinion, is this program, this system has been in place for a long time. I think it needs to be heavily scrutinized in terms of its results.
“Is it helping players in terms of their accountability? And, obviously, addiction is a sickness and you want to make sure — obviously, there’s accountability but it’s also a program that helps players get better. I think personally, I know Jerry and I think that it might could be done better and we just need to take a look at it. Like I said, it’s been the same program that’s been in place for many, many years and I think all things to do with the NFL, we should all want the very best for our players. We should want the very best for our organizations and we should want the very best for our fans, and that’s anything that has to do with the NFL.
“In my opinion, we should take a long hard look at how we’re doing this and see if there’s a way, a better way to do it. What that is, I don’t have the answer. But we have a lot of smart people that can get in there and analyze something and really make some good decisions and see if there need to be changes.”
“When you re-look at the whole program, I think you should take a look at every aspect of it. From the testing to the discipline to the amounts, anything to do with this. At the end of the day our goal should be to help players who have sicknesses and addictions and make them better people off the field, and then how we go about that I think is what needs to be looked at and make sure we’re doing everything the best way we can do it. Obviously, when you look at something like that you have to look at, ‘How do we do it in society right now? How does that affect the way a player sees his situation in that lens?’ And then make decisions based on that.”
Cannabis prohibition has been in place in America since 1937. Use has not been eliminated, not by a long shot. The same is true in the NFL and other leagues that prohibit cannabis. Players are going to use cannabis, and rightfully so (assuming they are 21 or older). Cannabis is safer than alcohol, is safer than opioid painkillers, possesses numerous medical benefits, and has been studied more than Hydrocodone, Toradol, and Tylenol – combined.
Cannabis is legal for adult use in 8 states and Washington D.C.. Vermont is on the verge of legalizing cannabis for adult use via the legislative process. More states are gathering signatures for ballot initiatives for the 2018 election, such as Michigan. The NFL has a cannabis testing threshold that is more than four times as strict as the Olympics. Meaning that someone like Usain Bolt, who has tested positive for cannabis in the past, could have four times as much cannabis in his system as an NFL player and be fine, but the NFL player would be suspended even if the consumption was completely legal by some state’s standards. How does that make any sense?
The Uncle Cliffy team is hopeful that the conversation will continue, and that more professional sports teams’ leadership will step up in support of cannabis reform as the Dallas Cowboys have done. Cannabis prohibition doesn’t just harm the players, it harms the teams too. Fans want to see their athletes in competition, and not serving a suspension because of an outdated policy based off of the failed political views of the past. Obviously there is a better way. Free the plant!
image via ATTStadium.com
Recently it was revealed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones supports a complete end to the National Football League’s ban on cannabis. Reports stated that in a private meeting with other National Football League (NFL) owners Jerry Jones expressed his support for reforming the NFL’s cannabis policy, and that Jones even tried lobbying the other owners to join him with their support. In many ways the news was very encouraging. However, in at least one way the report was troubling.
According to media accounts, one of Jerry Jones’ selling points to other owners was that cannabis policy reform could be a ‘big bargaining chip’ in upcoming collective bargaining with NFL players. That aspect of the news was disappointing, in that players’ health and livelihood should never be considered a ‘bargaining chip.’ Cannabis has been proven to treat a number of ailments, especially chronic pain and brain injuries, and has been proven to reduce a person’s reliance on opioids.
It is no secret that the NFL is experiencing a painkiller abuse crisis, and has been for quite some time. A study from 2011 looked at retired NFL players and their painkiller use. The study found that retired NFL players used painkillers at four times the rate of the rest of society. Americans only make up 5% of the world’s population, but consume 80% of the world’s opioids, so keep that in mind when you hear the stat about NFL players versus non-NFL members of society. The consumption rate is staggering and saddening at the same time.
Considering the fact that numerous studies have shown that cannabis can reduce opioid consumption, one would think that alone would be enough to get the NFL to end its ban on cannabis. The league and its owners shouldn’t be using the policy change for posturing purposes, and should instead be taking a lead on the issue since such a move would be based on sound science. Cannabis literally has the ability to help save NFL players’ lives. As such, allowing players to consume cannabis should never be seen as a ‘bargaining chip.’ To say otherwise shows a tremendous lack of compassion.
Cannabis prohibition is harmful. Not kind of harmful. Not mostly harmful. Prohibition is entirely harmful. There is no benefit whatsoever to enforcing cannabis prohibition on grown adults in a professional sports league. The NFL’s cannabis testing policy is particularly harmful in that it has such a low threshold for cannabis metabolites in a players’ system compared to other leagues.
The NFL has a current threshold of 35 ng/ml of THC metabolites for a player to be considered as failing the drug test. It wasn’t that long ago that the threshold was even lower in the NFL, at 15 ng/ml. Compare that to the Olympics, which has a threshold of 150 ng/ml. Why is it that 35 ng/ml is seen as being incredibly harmful to an NFL player, to the point that his career could be completely ended via penalties and sanctions, but an Olympic athlete would still be so far below the threshold that there would be no issue whatsoever. The National Hockey League doesn’t test at all. How does that make any sense?
NFL owners, and the league as a whole, will benefit greatly from reforming its cannabis laws. If the owners ultimately want something in return for refraining from clinging to the failed policies of the past, here are some things they will get in return for ending cannabis prohibition in the NFL:
- Lower consumption rates of alcohol, a substance of which has been found to be 114 time safer than alcohol, a substance which is widely embraced by the NFL.
- Better health outcomes for players that experience brain injuries.
- Less use of opioids, which are ruining players’ lives.
- Lower consumption rates of prescription drugs for sleep disorders, anxiety, and migraines, many of which have harmful side effects.
- Having players on the field competing rather than serving a suspension for a plant that is legal for adult use in 8 states, and for medical use in 28 states (plus D.C.!)
- Supporting equality by eliminating a policy that has been proven to be a form of institutional racism.
- It would put the league in line with a majority of Americans that want to end prohibition, many of them NFL fans. It would also put the league in line with an overwhelming majority of sports media figures who feel the same way.
The Uncle Cliffy team urges players to push for a full and immediate end to cannabis prohibition in the NFL. It’s the only way to truly ensure that selective enforcement is eliminated in the league, that all players can consume medical cannabis if needed, and that players are measured by their skills on the field and their moral character, rather than the amount of cannabis metabolites they have in their bodily fluids. A ‘medical only’ approach will not go far enough, as it will no doubt result in some players getting a pass while other suffering players continue to be unfairly targeted. A players’ health is not a bargaining chip in any negotiation, and NFL players need to recognize that fact. Stand up for your right to make the safer choice!
image via Wikipedia
Professional athletes have turned to cannabis for many years for wellness, relaxation, and/or recreational purposes. Cannabis is non-toxic, and has been proven to be 114 times safer than alcohol. Cannabis prohibition is a failed, harmful policy which are all reasons why the Uncle Cliffy team fights to free the plant and help kill the stigma surrounding responsible cannabis use.
Calls to end cannabis prohibition in professional sports, especially in the National Football League (NFL) have been growing in number. As long as the NFL and other sports leagues prohibit cannabis use among players, they are supporting and contributing to the needless destruction of some athletes’ careers and lives.
Cannabis prohibition is a racist policy, both in society and in professional sports leagues. African Americans are almost 4 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis, even though consumption rates between African Americans and other races are roughly the same. In parts of Missouri specifically, the racial disparity for cannabis arrests for African Americans is even greater, with African Americans being 18 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis. If an African American NFL player is 18 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis in certain parts of Missouri compared to whites, they are also 18 times as likely to be punished by the NFL for cannabis compared to their Caucasian colleagues. There’s no other way around it.
A strong majority (60%) of the American public supports ending cannabis prohibition, with recent polling showing majority support specifically for ending cannabis prohibition in professional sports leagues. 71% of NFL players think that medical cannabis should be legal in every state in America. 76.5% of sports media members support ending cannabis prohibition.
Support for cannabis reform in leagues like the NFL is at a fevered pitch. Proof of that came today when it was reported that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones came out in support of ending cannabis prohibition in the NFL while talking at a recent owner’s only meeting. Per Pro Football Talk:
Jones also raised the question of the NFL’s position on marijuana. Jones, per a source who heard the comments, wants the league to drop its prohibition on marijuana use. Jones was reminded that the issue falls under the umbrella of collective bargaining, which would require the players to make one or more concessions in exchange for significant changes to the marijuana prohibition.
Separately, the league office reiterated to PFT its position that any changes to the substance-abuse policy would occur within the confines of labor negotiations, and that the league is willing to listen to the medical community about any potential changes to the rules regarding marijuana.
This is a very significant development in the sports cannabis world. Jerry Jones is obviously not the ‘average owner,’ not by a long shot. Jerry Jones has owned the Dallas Cowboys since 1989 and is one of the most recognizable figures in all of sports. The Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable sports team on the entire planet. If Jerry Jones supports ending cannabis prohibition in the NFL, it’s an endorsement that could have serious influence on not only the NFL, but other sports leagues that prohibit cannabis.
Earlier this year NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came out in direct opposition to cannabis reform in the NFL. That was disheartening news at the time, as it had been previously thought leading up to Roger Goodell’s comments that there was a solid chance that the NFL would take an objective look at the overwhelming available evidence that cannabis helps treat many ailments and make the logical choice to update the NFL’s cannabis policy accordingly. Unfortunately that didn’t appear to happen.
Hopefully Jerry Jones’ recent comments will be backed up by some further action on his part, and that he will continue to urge owners to support ending cannabis prohibition in the NFL. The Uncle Cliffy team doesn’t like seeing cannabis reform being used as a ‘bargaining chip’ against players, and doesn’t feel that NFL players should have to give up anything in return for being able to use a non-toxic plant that is legal in many states, but this is still a significant development. It will be interesting to see how players react. Earlier this year the NFL Players Association announced that it would be putting out policy changes that would take a less punitive approach to cannabis policy.
image via Star-Telegram