The National Football League is finally ready to relax its policy on cannabis, according to a report from NBC Sports on Wednesday. Citing an unnamed league source, the network’s Pro Football Talk reports that “the NFL is prepared to make major concessions regarding the substance-abuse policy, especially as it relates to marijuana” in talks for the next collective bargaining agreement with players. Sports analysts expect that the NFL would use the offer of any revision of the substance abuse policy as a bargaining chip in negotiations and expect concessions from the players union in return. The league could eliminate cannabis from its substance-abuse policy completely, although some fear such a change would cause some players who are free agents to sign exclusively with teams in states with legal pot.
Players are already reacting to the rumors. After seeing an Instagram post about the report from social media platform uStadium, Dallas Cowboys defensive end David Irving, who is currently serving a league suspension, posted a reply critical of the NFL’s current policy.
“Well once they do that, give me a call,” Irving replied. “Cuz it’s bulls–t how I have Xanax bars n hydros right next to me to take, given to me by the nfl of course. However, we can’t smoke the same weed the staff itself smokes.”
Irving was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season after testing positive for a banned substance and was suspended again indefinitely on March 1 for repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Kyle Turley, a former NFL offensive lineman who is a cannabis advocate and founder of CBD athletic supplements brand Neuro XPF, told High Times that the league is “including cannabis in an alternative to pain killers research program.”
“I have talked to [Allen Sills] the chief medical officer of the NFL directly and he said he knows of its efficacy and said he is doing what he can to push it forward,” Turley said.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in January that he had spoken with representatives of the National Football League Players Association about cannabis and confirmed that the league was looking into the issue.
“[Medical advisers] look at this constantly, they look at the data, they look at the science and they make those recommendations to us on that basis,” Goodell said. “The union and the NFL work very closely on this. Dee [NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith] and I spoke about this the last two weeks.”
Goodell has indicated a reluctance to allow players to use cannabis in the past. In 2017, he shared his reservations with ESPN.
“Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say,” Goodell said. “It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term.”
Recently, however, the league has been less strict in applying its substance abuse policy when it comes to marijuana. Although they are all now currently suspended, players Josh Gordon, Martavis Bryant, and Randy Gregory were given multiple chances to comply following previous suspensions of one year or longer, despite rules that stipulate no tolerance for further violations after such disciplinary action.