NFLPA to Investigate Marijuana for Pain Management, But Players Shouldn’t Fire Up Bongs Just Yet
On Tuesday voters in California, Nevada, and Massachusetts approved ballot measures legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, while voters in Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota approved measures legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana. As a result, recreational marijuana use is now legal in eight states, and all but six states allow medicinal use.
While marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 substance on the federal level, the tide is clearly turning on this issue. Now the NFL Players Association is going to formally look at the possibility of allowing players to use marijuana as a pain-management tool.
On Wednesday the NFLPA announced that it was forming an NFL players pain management committee that will study player use of marijuana for pain management purposes, with the goal of determining whether a change to the league’s ban on the drug might be warranted.
“Marijuana is still governed by our collective bargaining agreement,” said George Atallah, the NFLPA’s assistant executive director of external affairs, in a phone interview with the Washington Post. “We are actively looking at the issue of pain management of our players. And studying marijuana as a substance under that context is the direction we are focused on.”
Of course, there are numerous players past and present who have advocated the medicinal use of marijuana for years. Former Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe and former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon have both argued in recent months that marijuana is a far safer way to manage pain than addictive prescription pain killers. And of course, Ricky Williams has been using marijuana to treat his anxiety for years.
Though research is hardly conclusive, more and more medical experts are advocating cannabis-based treatment of pain over traditional opioid-based painkillers. Opiate abuse in the United States is a huge problem. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2014 there were over 19,000 deaths attributed to the painkiller overdose, and some research suggest painkillers can be a gateway to heroin use.
Marijuana use is currently prohibited by the NFL collective bargaining agreement that runs through 2020. Though it would be possible for the prohibition to be lifted before the next CBA, both the league and the NFLPA would have to agree to it.
Hat Tip – [Washington Post]