The NFL has a fairly firm stance against the use of marijuana, both medically and recreationally. Commissioner Roger Goodell has made that clear with the leagues substance abuse policy, handing out four-game suspensions for positive tests.
With the country seemingly accepting marijuana use more widely, legalizing it in a number of states, some believed the NFL would do the same, allowing players to use it for medical reasons. Goodell didnt completely slam the door shut on that idea, but he did make it clear the leagues policy isnt changing.
He joined ESPNs Mike and Mike Friday to explain how the NFL views marijuana use:
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"We look at it from a medical standpoint. So, if people feel that it has a medical benefit the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the NFLPA and the NFL, and well sit down and talk about that. But weve been studying that through our advisers. To date, they havent said this is a change we think you should make thats in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, were certainly going to consider that. But to date, they havent really said that.
But as you point out, there are changes in this. Medical marijuana is something that is evolving and that is something that at some point the medical advisers may come to us and say 'this is something you should consider.
The main reason for the NFL to stand pat on preventing players from using marijuana is the long-term health effects. Goodell argues that its not exactly the healthiest option for players, even if it does have short-term benefits. It also comes with addictive consequences that can have a negative impact on players.
"I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use. Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, youre ingesting smoke, so thats not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And its not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game.We really want to help our players in that circumstance, but I want to make sure that the negative consequences arent something that is gonna be something that well be held accountable for some years down the road."
So while it doesn't sound like the NFL is going to allow players to use marijuana in the near future, Goodell does make it clear it'll always be something the league is looking at.