Last month NFL free agent Mike James became the first player to apply for a medical exemption to use medical marijuana. And now he's made history again as the first player to be denied a medical exemption to use medical marijuana.
James' request to use medical marijuana was denied by the NFL. While cannabis is a banned substance by the NFL, the league does make exemptions for other banned substances if players can prove they have a medical need for it. James argued that he needed to use medical marijuana after he began to excessively use prescription opioids to relieve his pain that he suffered from playing in the league. He began using marijuana in February, and said he could finally feel relief while still remaining coherent.
The NFL didn't accept the argument.
The question is what will happen next with James' career. He was already facing a somewhat uphill battle to land on a roster for next season, and now this whole issue may keep more teams away. James says he wants to become a medical marijuana advocate for the league, but he also wants to keep playing.
“I am hopeful that I’ll be able to keep playing football,” James said. “It is a game that I love very dearly. I know right now I’m doing something that makes some people uncomfortable, and that I’m going against the establishment to push for a change in the way they look at this medicine. I know there’s a greater purpose here for a lot of guys in this league who I consider family members.”
Several prominent, retired professional football players in recent years have revealed their own marijuana use as a way to cope with the injuries sustained throughout their careers.
It's unclear if the NFL's refusal to allow marijuana is due to their own old-fashioned beliefs or their desire to not attract the ire of the federal government. But considering they're more than happy to have their players pop painkillers at halftime, maybe they should rethink their morality.