The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has decided to begin studying marijuana as a possible pain management option. This comes after eight states voted to pass recreational or medical marijuana laws on November 8. A pain management committee is being formed to study players’ use of marijuana for pain management and other ailments.
This decision comes as players have pushed the NFL to allow medical marijuana use for pain and other issues, according to The Washington Post. The league has been under intense scrutiny given the dangers of opioid painkillers.
George Atallah, executive director of the NFLPA, said, “Marijuana is still governed by our collective bargaining agreement (CBA). And while some states have more in a more progressive direction, that fact still remains. We are actively looking at the issue of pain management for our players. And studying marijuana as a substance under that context is the direction we are focused on.”
Both the NFLPA and NFL would have to agree to any potential changes to the collective bargaining agreement.
Former Jaguars and Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe has been fighting the NFL to update its stance on marijuana.
Monroe said, “To this point, I understand why no one but me as an active player has said anything about it. It’s a banned substance in our league. Speaking about it can honestly ruin someone’s career if the wrong team gets wind of it and has adverse opinions on it. But my health is more important that the opinion of someone who could be my employer now or my future employer…There’s enough anecdotal evidence already to say, ‘Hey listen, we know it’s not toxic. We know it’s safer than what we’re already doing.’”
Gabriel Feldman, sports law program director at Tulane University, said, “I would think that both the league and the players are continuing to study the issue and continuing to study whether it makes sense. Certainly as the laws change, that might inform their decision and we may see action. [But] the league also has a uniformity issue. Even if the federal prohibition is lifted and it’s legal in some states and illegal in other states, the NFL might have an interest in maintaining its uniformity in its policy.”