It’s April 20. 4/20. The unofficial marijuana holiday. It’s also the day on which the marijuana amnesty ends for all NFL players.
Players not in the substance-abuse program are subject to one test per year, from April 20 through August 9. After submitting to that one test per year, a player can smoke at will — and/or take other drugs prohibited by the substance-abuse policy (e.g., cocaine, amphetamines, morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, PCP, MDMA) — without fear of consequence. (During the regular season, amphetamines and MDMA become PEDs.)
That’s how Aaron Hernandez managed to chain-smoke marijuana. He stopped long enough before April 20 to let the metabolites exit his system, and then once he gave a sample it was time to crack open the turkey bag.
Until the next April 20, the only risk comes from getting arrested for marijuana possession, having a joint fall out of a player’s jacket in the presence of a league official, and/or admitting publicly to smoking marijuana. (For example, when former NFL receiver Randy Moss admitted to smoking marijuana “every blue moon,” Moss nearly landed in the program.)
Once in the program, testing can happen up to 10 times per month. Which means up to 120 times per year. As opposed to the one test per year.
So, basically, a player not in the program needs to stop smoking on or about March 20 and to quit until after taking his once-per-year test. After that, it’s smoke ’em if you got ’em until the next March 20.