The majority of National Football Players are not onside with the NFL's marijuana ban or America's prohibition of cannabis, according to a survey released this week by ESPN. The sports broadcaster contacted 226 active players to discuss pain treatment. They found that 41 percent favored cannabis as a better for treatment for sports injuries while only 31 percent preferred prescription pills like the opioid Toradol.
For years, retired players like Kyle Turley have spoken out against athletes using opioids that can have disastrous health consequences, including addiction and death from overdose. They argue that cannabis is a safer and more effective treatment for sports injuries. And a lot of active players agree. Sixty-one percent of players polled by ESPN said that fewer players would take prescription painkillers if the league let them use marijuana instead.
But cannabis isn't an option - not legally, anyway. The NFL bans players from using marijuana recreationally or medicinally - even in states that have legalized cannabis. To keep marijuana out of pro-football, the league subjects all players to annual drug tests. However, that system doesn't work: 67 percent of players surveyed by ESPN said that the NFL's tests were not hard to beat. And another 22 percent said that they've known about a teammate using cannabis before a game.
In the past, the league has defended its cannabis ban. "It’s an NFL policy and we believe it’s the correct policy, for now," Commissioner Roger Goodell said last February. But that "for now" could change in the near future. Last June, news broke that NFL executives had contacted cannabis researchers to learn more about medical marijuana.
Meanwhile, marijuana remains illegal in America. Yes, states like Colorado and Oregon have legalized medical and recreational use. But as long as cannabis is listed as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), federal prohibition remains law. So those states are actually operating in legal gray areas.
The surveyed NFL players want that to change that as well. According to ESPN, 71 percent of surveyed players think marijuana should be legal in all U.S. states.
That is significantly higher than the national average. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana. Perhaps the support of NFL players will get more moderate voters onside with ending cannabis prohibition.
Banner photo: Century Link Field in Seattle (Mat Hayward/Shutterstock).