It’s October, that month I dread as a football fan, because the teams and the referees will be adorning their uniforms and fields with shocks of bright pink, representing support for the fight against breast cancer.
It’s not that I’m for breast cancer, of course. Cancer in all its forms sucks and should be fought with vigor on every front.
That’s why I’m disgusted by the National Football League pink-washing its image as an ally in the fight against cancer, while it is still maintaining fines and suspensions for players who use marijuana.
We’ve known since 1974 that cannabinoids show enormous potential as a front-line treatment for cancer.
Imagine that as a nation when we learned of this discovery, we then marshaled massive resources to further these studies. How much closer to a cancer cure would we be after 43 more years of unlocking the secrets of cannabis in government-funded labs free from the limitations of prohibition?
Instead, we make a big public spectacle out of pink fundraising, on the football field, in numerous fun-runs, at the office, raising money to investigate every promising treatment to fight cancer—except this one botanical option with the horrible, unacceptable side-effects of munchies, dry mouth and an appreciation for jazz.
It is bad enough that the NFL is preventing its players from using marijuana when it is shown to be a primary treatment for head trauma and an alternative treatment to opioids for pain. But by pink-washing the players while punishing the potheads, the NFL doesn’t just passively ignore a promising solution to cancer, it actively rejects and demonizes it.
Some readers may fault me for my curmudgeonly take on the pink. Sure, the NFL’s not embracing pot, but how could they, given its prohibition? That’s not the NFL’s fault. Isn’t it good they’re at least raising awareness and money for breast cancer research?
Well, about that money…
Darren Rovell of ESPN broke down where the money from a $100 purchase of pink NFL merchandise goes.
$8.01 goes to cancer research at the American Cancer Society.
$3.24 goes to administration of the American Cancer Society.
$1.25 goes to the NFL as a royalty.
$37.50 goes to the company that made the merchandise.
$50.00 goes to the seller of the merchandise… which is usually the NFL team’s pro shop or the NFL’s league shop.
In other words, when you buy some pink NFL gear, the NFL can be making almost 6.5 times more money on it than is being donated to cancer research.
As for awareness, sure, that’s great, but what is the social cost of diverting our awareness away from the potential of cannabis as a cancer treatment?
Why couldn’t the NFL embrace and promote cannabis awareness?
How about every September, we place a bright green cross on every helmet and field to raise awareness of cannabis as medicine for cancer, pain and concussion? Unlike pink ribbons, our symbol represents an actual treatment that’s been proven to work for multiple conditions.
Who are the green crosses in the NFL going to offend?
Three-quarters of the teams in the NFL play where marijuana is legal for medical purposes.
Three-fifths of Americans live in a state or district where marijuana is legal for medical purposes.
Ninety-three percent of Americans support the medical use of marijuana—even 92 percent of seniors and 85 percent of Republicans!
You can’t even pull the drug-and-alcohol-competition conspiracy card on this one.
Beer companies were only the eighth largest advertiser on last season’s NFL telecasts, making up just 6.6 percent of the top 10’s ad dollars. Denis Leary yelling about trucks was about a third of the NFL’s top-10 ad revenue (give or take). The other eight advertisers in the NFL’s top 10 are selling financial instruments, video games, movies, mobile devices or fast food.
Even if green crosses are far too much for me to expect from the NFL, what about just not punishing the players for using cannabis as medicine? If the NFL is not going to lead or follow the people on this issue, it should just get the hell out of the way.
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