Since 2011, the NFL has been internally debating its drug policy, which includes testing for human growth hormones. If the current revisions to the drug policy are approved, the threshold for a positive marijuana test will be significantly increased, and punishments for violating the policy will be reduced.
The delay in these changes to the NFL policy stems from a “continued standoff over arbitration of discipline,” according to ESPN. “In cases of non-analytical positives (i.e., an Alex Rodriguez-type case in which a player is found to be in violation of the drug policy by some method other than a failed test) or in cases of violations of law (i.e., a player getting caught trying to smuggle prescription drugs across the Canadian border), the NFLPA has asked that discipline appeals be heard by an independent arbitrator.”
However, the NFL insists that the commissioner (Roger Goodell) has final say over disciplinary matters. Once this power struggle over the administration of discipline is resolved, the changes to the NFL’s drug policy should go into effect.
Jonathan Ogden, retired Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle, has applied for a medical marijuana dispensary license in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. There are a limited number of licenses available in Nevada, so it is still unclear whether or not Ogden will own a dispensary.
One hundred and nine other companies have filed applications, and only 66 will be licensed this year, 40 of which will reside in Las Vegas (Clark county) where Ogden has applied. Applicants must also show they have $250,000 in liquid assets and have a licensed physician as the medical director to apply.
Hopefully, the NFL will feel the pressure of having Hall of Fame leaders like Ogden publicly support medical marijuana. The NFL's stance on medical marijuana hasn’t evolved to the same extent as that of the nation at large, and the organization still imposes strict laws on players via steep fines and suspensions. However, with the NBA and NCAA rethinking their marijuana-use policies, perhaps, the NFL will move in the direction of acceptance.
The Legislative Council of the NCAA approved a measure that would reduce the penalty for a positive marijuana drug test. Currently, college athletes face a full year suspension if caught using marijuana, but, after August 1st of this year, the suspension will be reduced to half of a year.
NCAA reasoned that marijuana is not “performance-enhancing in nature, and this change will encourage schools to provide student-athletes the necessary rehabilitation." The change in policy distances marijuana from being seen equally to steroid use and treats the issue “the same as academic fraud." This change clearly reflects the national shift on attitudes about marijuana towards decriminalization rather than strict punishment.
However, individual schools and conferences can still set whatever harsher penalties they like for their players. Since the NCAA only tests for marijuana during championships, it's fairly easy for an athlete to stop smoking marijuana a month before the NCAA Tournament to test negative.
“But if the NCAA would get out of the morality business when it comes to things like substances, and stay in the business of making sure competition is fair and not tainted by PEDs, I think it would be better for everyone,” Glenn Logan said in an article for SB Nation. “After all, we don't test regular scholarship students for marijuana, so why should student-athletes be singled out?”
After seeing the massive popularity of the billboards MPP posted near the stadium where the Super Bowl will take place that emphasize the objective safety of marijuana compared to alcohol, Project SAM decided to insert their outdated message into the conversation.
On Tuesday, MPP unveiled a series of billboards surrounding MetLife Stadium, site of the upcoming Super Bowl, that have been getting a lot of attention. These ads highlight the fact that marijuana is objectively safer than both alcohol and football, and call on the NFL to stop punishing players for using the safer option.
This is especially noteworthy this year, as the two teams playing in the Super Bowl are the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, both of whose home states made marijuana legal for adults in 2012.
Here's a picture of one of the ads from the ground, and you can view the rest on our website.
On Wednesday, MPP's Mason Tvert presented a Change.org petition calling on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to get rid of the policy of punishing players for using marijuana. The petition currently has more than 12,000 signatures.
This Wednesday head coach of the Florida Atlantic University football team, Carl Pelini, was forced to resign from his position in the dawn of his second season. It wasn’t Pelini’s 5-15 record or past personal issues that forced his hand but the reaction to rumors of a party he attended. According to these rumors, Pelini and one of his assistants attended a party where marijuana was present. That’s it. The university told Pelini and his assistant that it would be best for them to step down immediately.
While there are rumors that there was marijuana present, there is no doubt that there was alcohol available at this party, as it is at almost every other social event in college or elsewhere. Alcohol is far more toxic to the human body and dangerous to our society than marijuana. Yet there would have been no repercussions for Carl Pelini for attending a party where alcohol was present, or even for drinking it.
Prohibiting marijuana use while allowing, and often encouraging, alcohol consumption is a hypocrisy that needs to stop. Pelini never would have had to resign for drinking alcohol, so he certainly shouldn’t have to for attending a party where some people were making a safer choice.
Mercy: Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power
Media outlets reported yesterday that the Minnesota Vikings are trading all-pro wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks. Based on Harvin’s history, it is almost as if fate is telling the NFL it is time to change one of its most unjust and irrational policies.
It’s no secret that Percy Harvin has used marijuana. Percy tested positive for marijuana at the 2009 NFL combine, which was the reason why he was selected late in the first round instead of being a high pick. It’s also no secret that Percy – like many of us – suffers from severe migraines. Many have speculated that Percy used marijuana to treat these notoriously untreatable and unbearable headaches. In fact, Percy missed significant game and practice time with the Vikings due to migraines once he was forced to abstain – due to NFL rules (PDF) – from using marijuana as a treatment option.
Percy is now on his way to Washington, where this past November, voters made the use of marijuana legal for all adults 21 and over. Percy is now free, under state law, to use marijuana in the privacy of his own home. It is a right he should be able to enjoy as a citizen.
The NFL, as we all know, is an organization flush with advertising and sponsorship money from the alcohol industry. It is time for the league to stand up to its alcohol masters and reverse its policy that punishes players who simply choose to use a far less harmful substance.