NFL hopes to ditch marijuana ban via collective bargaining

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Regardless of whether Josh Gordon‘s latest suspension arises from marijuana or other recreational drugs that don’t enhance performance, his indefinite banishment brings back into focus a question that gnaws at power brokers like Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: Why does the NFL test players for marijuana use while on their own time?

It started during the War on Drugs, which wasn’t really a war and did nothing to get people to stop using drugs. Three decades later, more and more states are legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes, and more and more observers believe that marijuana does more good than harm for players suffering from pain and other issues related to playing tackle football for a living.

The NFL realizes that there’s no longer any good reason to keep the best football players from playing football over marijuana. But the NFL isn’t yet willing to make dramatic and wholesale changes to the marijuana testing policy because the NFL hopes to dangle the changes within the context of collective bargaining, securing a concession from the union in exchange for softening a policy that badly needs to be softened.

If negotiated as a separate issue, the union wouldn’t bite. More than 95 percent (maybe higher) of all players know how to avoid testing positive in the first place, and most of those who accidentally test positive once avoid more positives under enhanced testing, given the enhanced consequences.

So why make a broader concession that would affect all players in order to help only a handful? The union wouldn’t do it, and the policy would continue to ensnare a handful of players and the NFL would have to decide whether it’s OK with that.

And so the easiest approach will be to dump the changes into the next round of CBA discussions, blending the revision in with the broader negotiations and claiming that a concession was achieved.

Even if it isn’t.

56 responses to “NFL hopes to ditch marijuana ban via collective bargaining

  1. The game would be so much better, if they weren’t cutting great athletes out of the game, for something so stupid.

  2. It’s about time. If a player can drink alcohol of his off time, he should be allowed to partake of cannabis. Not to mention the health benefits with regards to pain management of cannabis. It’s far less addictive than the pain meds from Big Pharma.

  3. Florio, I believe that you mean the NFLPA hopes to ditch the ban…not the NFL.
    The NFLPA would want to get rid of the ban so that it’s clients would be free to smoke weed and use whatever illegal drugs they want without fear of punishment from their employer.
    I MUST question what the consequences would be if the ban were lifted. For example, if/when a player becomes addicted to weed and/or seeks a greater high (meth, crack, coke, heroin, etc.), i could foresee the NFLPA and the media suing/ripping the NFL for allowing the addiction (and subsequent consequences) to happen by lifting the ban.
    This scenario is absolutely plausible given the fact that lawyers are involved.
    I’m fine with it as long as players waive any and all “rights” to sue or blame their employers for the consequences of the players smoking fields of wacky tobacky.

  4. I saw this coming back in 1978.

    Why it takes so long, is beyond me.

    Probably can blame the media for sure, on this one.

    smh

  5. Gotta think the owners aren’t thrilled to be losing guys to suspensions for weed either. I’d treat it like alcohol. Do it your own time, we’re fine. If it starts interfering with your work now we have a problem.

  6. They need to get rid of it. Work place drug testing needs to be abolished period, except for actual on-site work place drug tests if they’re abusing while working, and jobs like being a soldier since you give up your rights. Marijuana can stay in your system for weeks based on daily use because it’s fat soluble, meaning it binds to fat cells. What does your job perfomance have to do with metabolites in your system?

    Nothing.

    Archaic and dumb.

  7. The NFL is great at using non revenue effecting issues to dangle to players in exchange for more power. “You guys want less practice time?” We’ll give it to you guys just agree to this lower rookie wage scale……ok deal!..”You guys want less punishment for your off the field carelessness?” We’ll give it to you just agree to this extra year of franchise tags…..ok great deal!! “You guys want us to let you smoke weed?” We’ll give it to you just agree to this lower profit sharing percentage….awesome let’s do it we love weed!!

    The NFL is run by smart billionaires, the nflpa is ran by idiots

  8. if the NFL is going to ban weed
    they should ban alcohol, cigarettes and cigars, caffeine and a few other things
    its values far outstrip its negatives
    smoke in some states, not allowed in others – give me a break

  9. Who exactly cares if players smoke reefer? The owners don’t, not really, and while they maintain their current posture they want all their shiny objects on the field.

  10. the evidence is in and heavily supported. its effective for so many purposes and mostly harmless to your body if used properly. helps a plethora of mystery illnesses and seizure based issues. no thc needed. but lets keep prescribing opiates for pain that ruin peoples lives with their physical dependence. progress is needed. if all josh gordon is doing is ripping the bong occasionally, i couldnt care less. its none of my business, and he isnt a criminal bc he prefers marijuana over alcohol for both pain and stress management. i would say the same if he was a player for the jets dolphins bills colts or steelers. i believe martivis bryant should also be allowed to play. get rid of this caveman aged policy.

  11. As long as there are still Federal laws against using marijuana, it is not legal to use regardless of State law. So instead of changing the CBA, those in favor of legalization need to focus on Federal legislation.

    If the NFL is going to look past willful violations of Federal law (even if many believe it to be outdated or misguided), how can they justify punishing players for other legal violations?

  12. This is all about lawyers & the league being held liable.
    Player X gets injured while playing a step slow. Player X sues NFL blaming them, stating he smoked before the game, for allowing him to do so with no punishments.
    Whether it’s legal or not plenty of companies will have to do the same. Imaging iron workers being allowed to smoke. Being a step off for them could mean falling a long way. Or a lineman being just so slightly buzzed, then grabbing a hot line.
    I am all for it being federally legalized; great tax revenue.
    Just don’t expect everyone to be allowed to freely smoke it when it does happen.

  13. All I know is where I live it’s 100% legal. I can walk in to a ligitimate business,that the locals authorities are fully aware of, and purchase state taxed legal marijuana.so, no its not illegal to those saying it still is.The tax money helps fund education and infrastructure and generates over $70 million a year in revenue for my state. It also provides additional employment opportunities, further strengthening the economy. Think about it!

  14. It’s not about the weed, it’s about the law. There are plenty of people stupid enough to smoke it, and have at it. You clowns can get it anyway. What bothers me are the militant weed advocates who claim that there are no side effects to the usage. Smoked it for 3 decades. Plenty of collateral damage and wasted lives from it. If you want to be high and selfish, at least be honest about it.

  15. I’ve never used Marijuana but from what I hear it could take several hours to wear off, depends on how much you take of course. I could see a player smoking weed in the parking lot and still be effected by game time. Can’t imagine this won’t lead to more injuries.

  16. I think they should stop testing for marijuana but until they do it’s a rule and the players agreed to follow the rules when they took the job. Secondly they voted to follow this rule. No player is being railroaded.

  17. Soldiers are throwing away their meds and using weed to treat pain, PTSD and a variety of other illnesses. How much more anecdotal evidence does anyone need? It shouldn’t be a crime to consume a plant, especially in a nation that has a serious problem with alcohol and cigarettes.

  18. ohio477034473 says:
    I think they should stop testing for marijuana but until they do it’s a rule and the players agreed to follow the rules when they took the job. Secondly they voted to follow this rule. No player is being railroaded.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________–
    The ones being railroaded are the FANS. NO ONE cares. Moreover, no one SHOULD care. Not only is it akin to drinking alcohol in EVERY moral/ethical measurement; in this case – for professional football players – it is a useful HEALTHIER method to treat the game/pain than ANY of the other ‘permitted’ chemicals they are prescribed (allowed to have.) All which cause SEVERE kidney damage and are highly addictive.

  19. This is one issue that both the owners and players agree on. It’s an easy “win” for the NFLPA, and wins are few and far between for these guys. The random drug testing isn’t random, so if they’re going to have testing, test all the players and give a test that’s not beatable 95% of the time. Or better yet, set it up so that a couple HOF QB’s test positive and get suspended. You’ll never see a program end so fast in your life. Marijuana is the least of my concerns. Some of the PEDs these guys are using are more concerning to me.

  20. Compromise:

    Owners give up:
    Get rid of the tests for pot.

    Players give up:
    Cut back on celebrations.
    Cut back on group celebrations of every point, every interception, every sack, every first down, etc.

  21. Yeah, except the NFL will dangle this to place salaries and other financial player rights into a stranglehold.
    The NFLPA should double check the insides of this gift horse before even putting the offer on the table.

  22. 1. The league’s substance abuse policy predates its PED protocol. Commissioner Pete Rozelle first introduced a loose recreational drug code, focused on education, in 1971; the preseason testing structure still used today came into being as part of the ’82 CBA—and suspensions didn’t begin until ’89. Separate language for steroids didn’t appear until ’83.

    2. Players outside the “intervention program”—those who’ve never had a violation—are tested just once a year. Anyone under contract is tested once between April 20 (yup: 4/20) and Aug. 9. The player is given at most a three-hour warning before being visited by a collector, who must directly witness the player providing the urine sample.

    3. For every player suspended under the policy, five to 10 others anonymously enter and exit the intervention program. Not even teams are made aware of a player’s positive test until he is suspended, which only occurs after multiple violations. Team physicians, however, have that information in order to prevent cross-medication issues.

    4. Marijuana is handled differently from all other substances. The discipline procedures for marijuana abusers are less strict than violations for all other drugs. Clause 1.5.2(c) states that an additional offense is allowed before suspensions are leveled in cases involving marijuana. And up until that point, fines for positive tests are less steep.

    5. Hundreds of people are involved in the program. There are generally two or three clinicians per NFL team who administer treatment plans for each player in the program. Then there’s the legion of agents who help conduct 15,000-plus tests each year. Combined with the steroid program, the NFL spends about $13 million per year on its drug programs.

    This is the process. They KNOW when they’re going to get tested. I don’t smoke it, but if I did and my job said you’ll be tested from XX until XX, wouldn’t you ensure you were clean? Random drug testing only occurs AFTER you’ve been busted; you should know better. Fool me once…

  23. There is really no downside to NFL players getting the green light to smoke weed, other than more delay of game penalities.

  24. This is the funniest labor issue I have ever seen.

    1 The rule hurts the owners more than the players on average.

    2 But because the owners are pompous fudddy duddies they cant accept that they are in the weaker bargaining position.

  25. Just because society is going to hell and embracing drugs does not mean the NFL must.

    For once I’d like the NFL to have higher standards than the outside world. Lifetime bans for being caught twice using drugs and treating domestic violence with the same regard. Caught first time – 1 year ban PLUS rehab and counseling; second time caught good bye forever.

  26. I really think using the CBA to get relaxed rules regarding marijuana is the way to go. The owners give on that and get something they want from the players. This is how things are done today, gang. It’s all about collective bargaining.

  27. I couldn’t care less if they smoke. But go ask your insurance agent if they would insure an NFL player while he’s running around with 300 lb men that are high crashing into each other. Or an entire league for that matter.

  28. You would assume that in a “Free Country” that it’s “free” citizens would be entrusted as to whether or not they would like to ENJOY A PLANT.

    Spoiler Alert: We unfortunately don’t live in a Free Country. “Freedom Lite” maybe, but certainly not Free.

  29. Liberalsruineverything says:
    December 21, 2018 at 9:49 am
    I couldn’t care less if they smoke. But go ask your insurance agent if they would insure an NFL player while he’s running around with 300 lb men that are high crashing into each other. Or an entire league for that matter.

    You guys are missing the point. Alcohol is OK in the NFL but if you show up drunk, you aren’t playing. Keep showing up that way and you will be gone. Same for pot. we heard the same hysterical rantings each time a state abolished the ridiculous pot laws and so far, the apocalypse is still on hold. It’s 2018 folks, not 1820. Time to evolve.

  30. So instead of just doing the right thing and lifting the ban, they will use it as leverage for the greed of the owners. Screw them.

  31. Indybear says:

    December 21, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Soldiers are throwing away their meds and using weed to treat pain, PTSD and a variety of other illnesses. How much more anecdotal evidence does anyone need? It shouldn’t be a crime to consume a plant, especially in a nation that has a serious problem with alcohol and cigarettes.

    ————

    I 100% agree that the league should look the other way when it comes to weed. Just wanted to point out that tobacco comes from a plant, so does cocaine, opiates, and most forms of alcohol (hops,agave,grains,potatoes,sugar cane etc).

  32. itsalwaysabout says:
    December 21, 2018 at 10:05 am
    Liberalsruineverything says:
    December 21, 2018 at 9:49 am
    I couldn’t care less if they smoke. But go ask your insurance agent if they would insure an NFL player while he’s running around with 300 lb men that are high crashing into each other. Or an entire league for that matter.

    You guys are missing the point. Alcohol is OK in the NFL but if you show up drunk, you aren’t playing. Keep showing up that way and you will be gone. Same for pot. we heard the same hysterical rantings each time a state abolished the ridiculous pot laws and so far, the apocalypse is still on hold. It’s 2018 folks, not 1820. Time to evolve.
    ——————————

    You are obviously missing my point. It doesn’t matter what you or me or the players or the league thinks. If they can’t buy insurance the league will fold. That is why there is a drug testing policy in place. Get it?

  33. They should ditch the marijuana ban, but this testing has nothing to do with Josh Gordon. The guy is an admitted addict-to substances of all kinds. He’s a disaster waiting to happen and needs to get help. Honestly busting him for smoking is doing him a favor in the long run.

  34. Smoking is very detrimental to one’s health…and Health should be at the top of an Athlete’s priority!!!

  35. I say its time for the NFL to stop testing for it. To me it is a much better option than the pain killers that they give these guys. Plus you don’t have the potential addiction problems you have with those pills. I also would rather have players getting high on their free time than getting blasted drunk.

    My question is how do you handle it to make sure players don’t show up high to practice or a game? and how do you handle it in states where it is still illegal and you can get charged for possession?

  36. The league choosing to not test for weed does not open the powers that be liable for anything. On the other hand, it’s hard to see the league allowing players to tumble out of a Fast Times…van right before kickoff. At some point, I predict the league will announce a prohibition on “off-season” drug testing for those players not in any drug-related protocol.

  37. Testing is a fait a com pile!

    Local and state attempts are MEANINGLESS-this is why most HS diplomas are WORTHLESS!!!

    ALL FEDERAL statutes trump ANY and ALL state and local statures-REEFER is a class 1 scheduled narcotic: LEGALLY speaking.
    PERIOD and check mate-end of the story.

    ONLY after revision of the FEDERAL statues, will ANY relaxation occur as these endeavours ALL fall under interstate commerce/ FCC/ yadda yadda yadda….

    NFLPA and NFL always ALWAYS litigate at the FEDERAL level-no local issuance of a reefer get out of jail free card will hold water based on the fact that all contracts will end up being adjudicated in FEDERAL courts.

    too much reefer in HS is why NOBODY seems to get this???
    Or has the BA/BS degree been cheapened and watered down so much that this too is a mere right of passage certificate….

  38. For everyone comparing alcohol to weed here, bear in mind that alcohol is part of the substance abuse policy as well. The NFL regulates that too.

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