NFL Player Speaks Out About Marijuana Prohibition In Football

Over the last few months, many retired NFL players have called on the league to reconsider its ban on marijuana, which Ricky WIlliams, Kyle Turley and others say is a better way to treat pain than prescription pills. Now Eugene Monroe - an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens - is lining up against the league on the issue.

In an interview with CNN this week, Monroe called on the NFL to reconsider its ban on marijuana. He said that as a player, "your job automatically gives you the symptoms of chronic pain. You're hitting each other as hard as possible every single day in practice. Your body is in pain a lot of time."

And a lot of players are already using marijuana to treat that pain, despite the league's ban. Monroe says that's a good thing given the opioid crisis in America.

"All over our country people are addicted, and that's happening in our locker rooms."

In 2015, a group of retired players launched a lawsuit against the league's 32 teams. They alleged that coaches, staff and doctors conspired to push players into taking prescription pills so that they could return from injury quicker. More recently, retired Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon claimed that he was "pretty much eating painkillers my whole career.".

But despite the scandals, despite the evidence that marijuana could help treat pain as well as serious conditions like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and despite evidence that marijuana could help players who become dependent on prescription pills, the league doesn't plan to change its drug policy anytime soon.

The NFL won't lift ban on marijuana

During the Super Bowl 50 festivities last month, Commissioner Roger Goodell said he supports the marijuana ban.

"It's an NFL policy and we believe it's the correct policy, for now, in the best interest of our players and the long-term health of our players."

He added that he's heard of the potential benefits of marijuana, but there hasn't been enough research to convince the league's medical personnel.

"I agree there has been changes, but not significant enough changes that our medical personnel have changed their view, he said. "Until they do, then I don't expect that we will change our view."

Players union agrees with league officials

And the biggest advocate for current players - the NFL Players Association - is standing by the league and its medical personnel on the issue.

"Marijuana is currently a banned substance under the collectively bargained Substances of Abuse Policy," they said according to CBS Sports. "Both parties to the Policy (NFL and NFLPA) seek guidance from the independent medical professionals who administer the policy, and no change to marijuana's status as a banned substance has been recommended by those medical professionals."

But Monroe isn't discouraged by this opposition. He told CNN that a lot of evidence will have to be presented to the league before it becomes convinced that marijuana won't hurt the game.

"The NFL will need to have legitimate information before they remove marijuana from the banned substance list and ultimately not hurt their product in the field."

However, he's hopeful that the league will come around and become a leader on the issue: "there's opportunity in that space also, for the NFL to get involved and maybe lead efforts."

h/t CNN, CBS Sports


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