NFL Marijuana testing update


The rules that have snared a number of NFL players for positive marijuana test results may be changing, according to a new report.

“When and if the NFL’s new drug policy is finalized and announced, it will include changes specific to marijuana and other drugs of abuse,” ESPN’s Dan Graziano writes. The threshold for a positive marijuana test would be increased and punishment for violations involving pot would be reduced. From Graziano’s report:

The source said the NFL’s policy on marijuana is outdated, pointing out that the World Anti-Doping Agency has a higher threshold for a positive test than the NFL currently does.

The NFL Players Association has expressed to the league an interest in studying the medical research that has led to the legalization of marijuana in many states for medicinal use, but it believes changes are needed in the meantime regardless.

What is holding up the implementation and announcement of changes to the league’s drug policy is a continued standoff over arbitration of discipline. In cases of nonanalytical positives (i.e., an Alex Rodriguez-type case in which a player is found to be in violation of the drug policy by some method other than a failed test) or in cases of violations of law (i.e., a player getting caught trying to smuggle prescription drugs across the Canadian border), the NFLPA has asked that discipline appeals be heard by an independent arbitrator.

The NFL has continued to insist that the commissioner have final say over discipline matters.

A change wouldn’t help Josh Gordon, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver who is likely to be suspended for the season because of multiple positive tests over his two-year career, and other players, though. Marijuana use isn’t widespread in the NFL, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman writes, but there are valid reasons a player might use it.

Most players use marijuana to ease the violence of the sport. There are handful that use it as a sort of crutch, I’m told. It’s not addiction, these players say, but still there is heavy use. They use pot as more of a comfort blanket than a necessity.

It helps them cope with not just the brutality of the sport but the every day stress it presents: dealing with coaches, the media, the pressure of winning, the pain of losing.

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