As the nation continues to see states legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana, the NFL could be headed in the same direction. One of flexibility, that is.
Several owners and ownership sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com the issue of marijuana punishment looks set to become a key issue over the next few years and as the next CBA negotiations take shape. Those surveyed want more research done regarding this issue and many of those anonymously questioned would prefer to see lighter punishments involving weed, with two of the sources wanting suspensions for marijuana wiped out and replaced only with fines.
A “groundswell” of support exists for reducing suspensions for marijuana, one of the sources told Rapoport. Suspensions of Josh Gordon and Randy Gregory have raised awareness of this issue, and several league execs want owners to “follow the country” on the relaxation of weed-induced penalties. Seven NFL teams play in states where recreational marijuana use is legal, with more playing in states where medicinal usage is. The league’s current stance appears draconian by comparison, although it’s progressed to some degree in recent years.
The NFL in 2014 raised the threshold for what it takes to be suspended for marijuana. Two- and four-game fines now precede a suspension once in the drug program, something with which Washington left tackle Trent Williams became familiar earlier this season.
With the national consensus moving away from the stricter penalties of the past, many decision-makers around the league are ready to discuss this further. However, what exactly will be done remains a mystery and an alteration here might not be imminent.
“Medical experts have not recommended making a change or revisiting our collectively bargained policy and approach related to marijuana,” an NFL spokesman said, via Rapoport.
The NFLPA, though, is forming a committee to study the effects of marijuana for pain management.