Yes, the annual window for the annual random test of NFL players for recreational drugs opens on 4/20. A full 32 days before the first day on which a player can be asked to provide a urine sample that will be tested for certain banned substances that don’t enhance performance, the NFLPA has issued a reminder to all players of the looming testing period.
It’s a smart move by the union. With marijuana metabolites staying in a player’s system for up to 30 days, players need to know more than 30 days before they may be tested that the time has come to quit the turkey bags cold turkey.
During the “War on Drugs” of the 1980s, the NFLPA first agreed to allow players to be tested for marijuana and other illegal substances. Whether the NFL or any employer should care what an employee does on his own time during the offseason is a different question.
We (or at least I) believe the NFL shouldn’t care if a player is smoking marijuana or taking other illegal substances unless and until they are arrested for possession or some other related violation. Until then, it’s not for the NFL or anyone other than the authorities to exert authority over the things a player chooses to do in the privacy of his own home.
The problem has become more complicated in recent years, with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, two of the 22 states where the NFL does business. At some point, the NFL will be forced to face the question of whether it should still prohibit marijuana use by its players.
Until then, players who aren’t in the substance-abuse program are free to smoke marijuana from the time they take their annual test until 30 days or so before the next April 20, when their next annual test can first happen.
Players who are smart and/or who don’t have an addiction to marijuana can easily navigate that limitation. Still, it’s fair to ask whether, as to marijuana, the limitation should even exist.