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Report: Higher threshold for positive marijuana tests in new drug policy

Cleveland Browns v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

During a meeting with reporters in New York City last week, NFLPA President Eric Winston reiterated that the union will not sign off on HGH testing until the NFL agrees to neutral arbitration for some violations of the league’s drug policy.

The league has charged the union with dragging its feet on testing by bringing up other issues, but it may not just be HGH testing that’s being held up by the impasse. Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports that changes to the way the league handles testing and discipline for marijuana.

Graziano reports that the new substance-abuse policy will “significantly increase” the threshold for a positive marijuana test, something that the World Anti-Doping Agency already has, while also lessening the penalties for positive tests. There’s no word on exactly how the discipline will change, but players in Stage Two of the program currently face a four-game suspension for a violation. Further violations carry longer suspensions like the one Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is facing although no change to the program at this point would change his plight.

The NFLPA wants two exceptions to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s role as the final arbiter on violations of the drug policy. The first is in cases of a non-analytical violation (i.e., a player is found to have violated the policy without failing a test) and the other is when the violation comes from a violation of the law.

If the two sides can bridge the gap and agree to implement the new policy, the changes should go into effect in short order.

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58 Responses to “Report: Higher threshold for positive marijuana tests in new drug policy”
  1. radiofriendly420 says: May 13, 2014 5:11 PM

    I have an idea! Why not just allow the players to have marijuana in their system?

    Problem solved.

    Next.

  2. tvjules says: May 13, 2014 5:13 PM

    But if you hit a woman, or knock her unconscious in an elevator, we’ll still see you on game day.

  3. guiness17 says: May 13, 2014 5:14 PM

    FOUR YEARS FOR WEED? damn…

  4. j0esixpack says: May 13, 2014 5:18 PM

    Pun intended?

  5. NoobTubeTV says: May 13, 2014 5:18 PM

    Goodell only wants power… He is God and he will do everything he can to keep it that way.

  6. h0c2000 says: May 13, 2014 5:19 PM

    HGH and THC = Winning combination

  7. mychode says: May 13, 2014 5:21 PM

    Soon they’ll have to replace the Gatorade on the sidelines with chocolate milk and Fritos.

  8. upperdecker19 says: May 13, 2014 5:24 PM

    Exile all 2nd time offenders to a London team….along w/ the commish

  9. barsfordays says: May 13, 2014 5:24 PM

    Cannot stop, will not stop

  10. whysomanylosers says: May 13, 2014 5:24 PM

    Why the “higher” threshold… some of these dummies will still fail their once a year test (and they know when to be clean).

    Just legalize it.

  11. peopletrains says: May 13, 2014 5:25 PM

    Players that beat their girlfriends, drive drunk, and partake in purple drank and bath salts have a more serious negative impact on the image of the NFL than guys smoking marijuana. Unless you’re Sam Hurd, there should not be any penalty for smoking up. Based on public opinion, it’ll be legal soon anyway.

  12. unbiasednflfan says: May 13, 2014 5:27 PM

    Players shouldn’t be punished for THC in their system, it’s one thing to be committing crimes like having large amounts for possible sale. But lets be honest do we really think that Josh Gordon needs to be suspended for a year because he likes to smoke weed? I think a lot of us have jobs that could be affected just as much if not more if we were smoking all the time and we don’t have to worry about any suspensions or fines.

  13. hjb99992013 says: May 13, 2014 5:27 PM

    I am an old man so I dont get smoking this stuff, but it seems to me the hippy lettuce must be a pretty seductive mistress to through away an nfl career and millions of dollars

  14. badskidmarks says: May 13, 2014 5:30 PM

    Or the players could simple act like intelligent, mature adults and not use illegal substances. Regardless of opinion on the matter, if it’s currently not legal they should have the sense to not do it, certainly with so much money on the line. Nobody to blame but themselves if they test positive. Suck it up and take the punishment.

  15. weepingjebus says: May 13, 2014 5:30 PM

    Call me old-fashioned, but I’d prefer to watch professional football where players are neither roided up or baked out of their skulls. That was basically the Seahawks v. Broncos SB, and we all know what a thrilling, close contest that was.

  16. thetooloftools says: May 13, 2014 5:32 PM

    The NBA doesn’t even test for weed or the court would be empty.

  17. filthymcnasty1 says: May 13, 2014 5:33 PM

    What a half baked idea.

  18. peopletrains says: May 13, 2014 5:35 PM

    Part of being an intelligent, mature adult is realizing that marijuana is not nearly as bad (if bad at all) as other things people can choose to do. Ronald Reagan isn’t president. It’s not the 80s. Live in the now.

  19. urbusted2 says: May 13, 2014 5:38 PM

    Whether you like or dislike marijuana use in our society, it’s here and has been for many years. There are certain occupations that would seem to warrant not allowing use of the drug. I don’t think playing football should be one of them.

  20. dfwhawkguy says: May 13, 2014 5:39 PM

    I used to think the Seahawks would win 4 straight Superbowls. I now revise that to 10.

  21. vdogg says: May 13, 2014 5:42 PM

    If your employer deems it unacceptable, guess what? ITS NOT ACCEPTED! If the money professional football players make is not enough incentive to stop smoking weed for a few months of the year when they already know they’re going to be tested then screw them, and ban them for life.

  22. jetsjetsjetsnow says: May 13, 2014 5:42 PM

    Is it an NFL crime to get tested positive on a team in a state where marijuana is legal?

  23. rdubluv12 says: May 13, 2014 5:52 PM

    What about states where weed is actually LEGAL? Just because marijuana use is against NFL policy, does not mean it’s an illegal substance. Neither team in the SB were “roided up or baked out of their skulls”…the Broncos just so happened to get exposed for the frauds they truly were. That’s what happens when you skate by playing medicore AFC defenses all season.

  24. bigbenh8tr says: May 13, 2014 5:55 PM

    Pathetic NFL. If you didn’t think it was about money already this sums it up.
    The #1 WR for the Qb who coincidentally has the #1 selling rookie jersey gets busted and they discuss changing the rules.

    Im sure Dorial Green Beckham at Missouri is “stoked” that his red flags just faded a tiny bit

  25. doctorrustbelt says: May 13, 2014 5:57 PM

    Interesting how the pittsburgh steelers haven’t won anything since their team doctor (dr. richard rydze) was indicted for illegal distribution of anabolic steroids and growth hormone.

  26. elmerbrownelmerbrown says: May 13, 2014 6:04 PM

    Next years draft will feature the first openly admitted pot dealer

  27. catquick says: May 13, 2014 6:16 PM

    Long overdue

  28. firerogergoodell says: May 13, 2014 6:17 PM

    Look at all the old fogies that rushed in here to thumbs down all the pro-420 comments haha. Nobody in their right mind could justifiably categorize marijuana as a performance enhancing drug. Fining players as such is wrong and completely unjust. Eric Winston will drop the hammer and hopefully we will all get HGH testing as an added bonus to the abolishment of these ridiculous policies.

  29. longsufferingkcfan says: May 13, 2014 6:17 PM

    You can overdose on alcohol. You can’t overdose on pot. If they run guys like Josh Gordon and Justin Blackmon out of the league for this, it will be remembered as one of the stupidest things the league has ever done.

  30. hisandherpes says: May 13, 2014 6:24 PM

    The only things the NFL should test players for are PEDs. Not adderall, not pot or codeine… just PEDs.

  31. godofwine330 says: May 13, 2014 6:29 PM

    It is amazing the punishment for marijuana. A person can have a DUI and get into an accident and either not get suspended or get a week while another smokes weed – and doesn’t get caught doing it which means he didn’t do it in public – and that person gets suspended for a year.

    Getting caught selling it is one thing, but merely smoking it should not merit a suspension tougher than steroids, DUI’s, assaults or worse. I know that everybody is going to say, “The rules. It’s against the rules,” but let clearer heads prevail It’s weed.

  32. bucsmightbegood says: May 13, 2014 6:48 PM

    George Washington had hemp fields, in fact one used to be able to pay their taxes in hemp.

    Weed is a far superior alternative to drinking, pain killers and other substances.

    It’s a shame that it isn’t legal yet. The US is outsourcing itself by refusing to grow with times.

  33. bobnelsonjr says: May 13, 2014 6:53 PM

    Football fans do not want druggies and dopers in the NFL.

    Punishments should be increasing in severity not decreasing!!

  34. kwjsb says: May 13, 2014 7:11 PM

    If you play in a state where it is legal, are they immune from the penalties?

  35. crubenst says: May 13, 2014 7:14 PM

    Punishment for marijuana should be lessened but it has absolutely no correlation to hgh testing. The NFLPA is playing games if they’re trying to get extra concessions for something they already agreed to do.

  36. jander05 says: May 13, 2014 7:18 PM

    What a joke. Marijuana isn’t even performance enhancing. Why it would concern the NFL whether a player has it in their system is beyond me, unless they are accused of breaking the law. Once it became legal in two states, the penalty should be whether or not the player commits a violation of the law. Simply the presence of it in their system shouldn’t matter, unless it is giving them a competitive advantage.

  37. gibbskins9 says: May 13, 2014 7:42 PM

    Drugs are drugs they all should be penalized equally.

  38. wrdtoyrmama says: May 13, 2014 8:14 PM

    If you’re testing the players for this, then maybe the NFL should also be testing all its on field/off field employees, officials, and owners as well.

  39. tanstewie says: May 13, 2014 8:17 PM

    The nflpa is a joke!!! U let the owners get whatever they want yet u risk your players getting kicked outa the league for burning a J. Like others have said, selling or committing a crime with weed sjould be one thing but casual use should not. Dui’s n beating your girl in an elevator are far more serious. And the fact that if u fail a test in college puts you in stage 2 of the drug program n subjects you to random testing is a joke.

  40. winstonjed44 says: May 13, 2014 8:18 PM

    Or they could just stop testing for it. What is the advantage in testing? It’s not a ped, and testing for it doesn’t even stop players from using, they only test once a year and so the players that do use it just wait until they’re tested and then are free to use it the rest of the season. The NHL and MLB don’t test. It’s legal in two states that have NFL teams, decriminalized in many places and medical marijuana is legal in many places.

  41. hawkstradamus says: May 13, 2014 8:22 PM

    The league doesn’t need a policy for recreational drugs. These are grown men, not children. They don’t operate machienery or performe surgery.

  42. our2boyz1 says: May 13, 2014 8:30 PM

    I know I would be fired for a first time offense and I don’t make nothing compared to what these guys make. Put down the pipe

  43. noahbird says: May 13, 2014 8:31 PM

    Marijuana is better than a Vicodin addiction.

  44. mzew233 says: May 13, 2014 8:38 PM

    Get over it already, what players put in their body is their choice. Some guys will take a hot bath, hit some advil maybe some oxys after a big game – other guys might smoke a bowl before sleep. Go join the boy scouts if these NFL people are so concerned.

  45. golions1 says: May 13, 2014 9:22 PM

    The NBA doesn’t test for weed.

  46. charman11 says: May 13, 2014 9:26 PM

    Yes please NFL get with it and stop the craziness of suspending someone for a year for a smoking a bowl once in a while. This has got to stop. It’s insane!!

  47. thereyougo2 says: May 13, 2014 9:27 PM

    Pot/marijuana is not a “drug”. It’s a weed growing out of the earth or earth soil. It does not enhance a persons ability to physically perform rather it helps most relax. It also makes most hungry for foods of various choices. It’s becoming known for medical purposes.

    Not only do most people of college age use it most citizens of the earth use it regardless of age. It can be expensive when labeled illegal therefore an element wants to keep it that way.

    Roger Goodell if he does not already should use it. Then we may get our professional football game back. IMHO .

  48. cowboysfan1979 says: May 13, 2014 9:27 PM

    If a private company tells their employees that weed is not allowed, they are allowed to punish them for violating the rule. This applies even in states that have made it legal. If these players want to accept the rewards that come with being a professional football player, they should abide by all of the stipulations that are written in their contract.

  49. sandy102270 says: May 13, 2014 10:00 PM

    The players agreed to the CBA. Included in the CBA was the drug policy.

    Regardless of what public opinion is, if the CBA says they can’t smoke, then they can’t smoke.

    And since it’s been asked a couple of times, weed is still considered an illegal substance under federal law, so it is still a banned substance for guys playing in states where it has been legalized, and they can still be punished for a hot test.

  50. th56 says: May 13, 2014 10:11 PM

    Just stick with performance enhancing drugs. The NFL doesn’t need to be the moral police.

  51. dartwick says: May 13, 2014 10:16 PM

    It should be against the rules to under the influence of pot at any team function(meeting, practice, games, media stuff.)

    Otherwise – who cares?

  52. ghost26 says: May 13, 2014 11:07 PM

    ‘The NFLPA wants two exceptions to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s role as the final arbiter on violations of the drug policy. The first is in cases of a non-analytical violation (i.e., a player is found to have violated the policy without failing a test) and the other is when the violation comes from a violation of the law.’

    As a fan of the NFL & its players I’d love to see these changes.

    It’s time for this country to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana if you are at least 18 years old. If you’re driving a vehicle under the influence of marijuana then it should be treated like driving under the influence of alcohol.

  53. edelmanfanclub says: May 14, 2014 2:32 AM

    Lmao at the Half Baked reference

  54. coachbeck says: May 14, 2014 4:02 AM

    Instead of player punishment just charge the team a % of their salary cap if they keep him on their roster.

    Then the problem works itself out. Players union can go away then

  55. Indybear says: May 14, 2014 6:29 AM

    Many returning Vets have ditched their prescription drugs for weed to treat PTSD and other war-related issues. It’s definitely NOT performance enhancing and the League shouldn’t even test for it.

  56. sjoyner59 says: May 14, 2014 6:36 AM

    Weed should not be part of the drug testing in the NFL period.

  57. seahawks80 says: May 14, 2014 7:14 AM

    So any business owner in a state where pot is legal should let his/her employees come to work high? That is just dumb, just imagine high doctors, high heavy equipment operators, high police officers, etc….ignorant.

  58. willyeye says: May 15, 2014 2:36 PM

    The problem with the pot debate is that 99% of the anti-pot crowd are forming opinions about a subject that they have no experience with. How can an anti-pot advocate compare pot to alcohol when they don’t smoke pot? And please, no gateway drug arguments. Every heroin addict I’ve ever talked to started out with alcohol (the real gateway drug).

    Here’s the word of a wise old man who has used both pot and alcohol, but neither to a point of detriment. I’ve seen hundreds of people get sh*tty drunk…they can’t speak without slurring, they lose their balance, they fall down, they have blackouts, they get belligerent, and many get violent. I’ve been there, and I guarantee you there is no way I could have safely driven a car. Pot on the other hand is a COMPLETELY different kind of buzz. It’s relatively easy to more or less “snap out” of the buzz. I’m not condoning driving after smoking pot, but it definitely can be done quite easily. You don’t lose your entire sense of balance and start falling down. It’s actually pretty easy to “overdose on alcohol”, and conversely, it’s pretty much impossible to overdose on pot. I’ve also personally seen many people die from chronic alcohol use…there is no such equivalence for pot.

    I am a firm believer in medicinal marijuana…it’s now legal in 21 states. I know A LOT about this subject. Allowing NFL players to take prescription meds for pain, is far worse than allowing them to use pot for pain. Any of the players in those 21 states should be allowed by the NFL to use pot as a pain medicine. And MANY doctors are starting to see the medicinal value of marijuana. Researchers are just beginning to scratch the surface of all of the medicinal uses for pot.

    I will say this: watch out for legalizing recreational use of pot. I live in WA, and it’s becoming clear that, now that recreational pot is legal here, the State of WA is going to make medicinal marijuana ILLEGAL. They don’t care how many cancer patients are currently using pot…all they care about is taxing pot…the current sales tax rate on recreational pot is 85%…their plan is to overturn a medicinal marijuana law that was passed by voters in 1998 and to start arresting people who grow pot for their own medicinal use.

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