Evolution of state laws will make it harder for NFL to ban marijuana

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The NFL continues to ban marijuana use, despite dramatic changes in societal attitudes regarding the consumption of cannabis. But the pressure on the league to change its ways continues to mount.

Nevada, the new home in 2020 of the Raiders, has become the first state to prohibit employers from refusing to hire employees based on a failed marijuana test (with obvious exceptions for safety-sensitive jobs). This undoubtedly applies to the Raiders.

Of course, the NFL rarely if ever disqualifies employees based on positive marijuana tests. Instead, a pre-employment positive sets the stage for enhanced testing and, eventually, unpaid suspensions. But the Nevada law carves a path that could support an argument that employers cannot discipline in any way employees who test positive for marijuana. And similar laws could pop up in other states that have legalized marijuana use.

Really, why wouldn’t states that make marijuana use legal not protect employees from adverse employment action based on legal marijuana use? It’s part of the natural evolution of the law, which reflects broader societal trends.

As more and more states have legalized marijuana use, the NFL has taken refuge in the federal government’s ongoing treatment of marijuana as a controlled substance to justify holding firm regarding its position that the substance remains forbidden. That will be hard to do if/when the laws of states in which NFL teams do business begin to prohibit any type of punishment for employees in jobs that don’t impact public safety.

87 responses to “Evolution of state laws will make it harder for NFL to ban marijuana

  1. Given that the MLB removed marijuana from its “drugs of abuse” list a month ago it’s hard not to see the other leagues not following.

  2. i have never used marijuana. But i did vote to legalize it in my state-which it did. I see it as no different than alcohol in this regard.

    Drinking and driving is a no no and using marijauna and driving is a no no.

    other than that-to each his own

  3. The League better hurry if it wants to trade the pot ban for a 17 game season
    or it will lose that piece of ammunition with nothing in return.

  4. I’d call professional football a safety-sensitive job as a player under the influence of anything would be a danger to himself and others.

    But maybe that’s just me.

  5. Only 11 states allow recreational marijuana. So while yes there is an evolution it is not a revolution. That said, I think the NFL should get over it. PEDs? Yes. But as long as that recreational use doesn’t affect game play who cares? A hangover can affect game play, but it is universally legal and the NFL doesn’t care until there is a problem. PED do affect game play or can so I get it. Can we just stick to that principle?

  6. (with obvious exceptions for safety-sensitive jobs). This is an acknowledgement that smoking marijuana diminishes a person’s mental and physical capacities. So coming to work high at certain jobs may not be a safety hazard, but may cause a company to lose a big deal or cause a company to make poor decisions or work less efficiently. But you can’t fire someone for that. Makes no sense. Also, if the Left Tackle is high, he may miss his pass protection and get the QB hurt. So NFL players who smoke marijuana are a safety hazard.

  7. No, it won’t. Plenty of the NFL’s banned substances are legal products that you can buy at Walgreen’s.

  8. Does federal law hold sway over state laws? If it is still considered illegal on a federal level, wouldn’t any other state laws essentially be defunct? Or, do state laws take precedence?

  9. Hey, I don’t care if every state legalizes marijuana, I don’t believe that they will ever make it mandatory that an employer hire people that partake. In saying that, I’m not making a judgement on people that use it. But, I can say that I have a MMJ card, which I very rarely use anymore because the product slows my thinking process. Maybe it doesn’t do that to everyone, but I would feel very uncomfortable knowing certain types of industries allowed it or any other type of drug use.

  10. Perfect time for NFL to “give in” to the players on the smoke in exchange for something else in the next CBA.

  11. This is ridiculous. Marijuana isn’t a PED, no advantage gained other than pain relief. If it’s legal in your state, it should be legal for you.

  12. Our fair state, Washington, voted for recreational cannabis.

    Nothing happened.

    (Except state revenue, elimination of bath salts, open talk about drugs, better police interaction).

    And the problem is?

  13. There are plenty of people (I am one) who can not smoke because of their profession. Medical personnel in Mass cannot. As part of my job, I have to take a pee test on demand. Do you really want your doctor operating on you stoned? Or your airplane pilot? These professions have always faced restrictions. So they are football players, as part of their professional association they agree not to smoke pot. NBD. I can’t. If I pop positive, my career is in flames. I don’t see the difference. You want to smoke pot? Get a different job.

  14. Safety sensitive jobs are the exception from no discipline or termination of an employee. Football is all about safety and so the use of marijuanna will likely continue to be banned for players.

  15. Which just sets up a lawsuit over federal supremacy vs states’ rights. The Colorado Supreme Court found for Dish Network when they fired a guy for pot.

    Until the federal prohibition is ended, the bottom line is that marijuana is illegal throughout the country.

  16. Marijuana has been known to cause extreme insanity in the people that don’t smoke it. This is a great endeavour by the state of Nevada, especially on the heels of U-Haul’s announcement that it will refuse to hire people who test positive for nicotine. America calls itself the land of free….time to talk to talk.

  17. That’s the way it should be. If they don’t have a pre-employment Tobacco or Alcohol Screening why should Marijuana in CANNABIS LEGAL STATES be used as a disqualification for MOST jobs?

  18. Wouldn’t a stoned football player “obviously” have some issues playing a contact sport where safety is supposed to be a paramount concern?

  19. Considering the former players are filing lawsuits left and right against the NFL for safety/injury reasons couldn’t they say it is a safety sensitive job?

  20. Go listen to Pat McAfee talk about Josh Gordon and his own experiences in the ‘program’. It is so invasive it would be criminal in any other non-safety sensitive jobs. I doubt the CIA or Secret Service have as extensive testing as the NFL does.

  21. Colorado had a case reach the State Supreme Court vs DirecTV. It ruled private employers have the right to determine employment standards.

    No one is entitled to a job in the NFL.

  22. I do believe one day the NFL will allow marijuana usage for medicinal purposes (although I am all for both medicinal and recreational use for NFL players). There’s a lot of ex-NFL players who would rather smoke pot to relieve pain than to take prescription grade pain killers.

    Unfortunately, it may be a while before we see this change occur. The South is the LEAST progressive when it comes to reform.

  23. A little-known fact is the NFL raised the threshold for a failed cannabinoid test to 35 nanograms about 5 years ago. (many employers cut you loose at 5 ng). How often do you hear of an NFL player failing a cannabis drug test since then? MLB has a 50 ng threshold. It isn’t much of a problem for them. The point is, you don’t have to “legalize” it, just raise the threshold for a failed test to the point where as long as you don’t smoke a big fattie on the way to your test, you’re good. It’s still a “banned” substance but you gotta be an idiot to fail the test.

  24. Good. Drug testing laws in regards to marijuana are stupid to begin with. It stays in the human body for a while so people are getting penalized by companies for doing something recreational in their personal time. And don’t give me the excuse about what the law says because not all laws are created equal. Slavery was legal at one time. Citizens United is legalized bribery. Civil Asset Forfeiture allows for the assumption of guilt, has no checks or balances, and has been abused heavily. I can go on but the point is this is something that needs to end. Invest in better technology if want to find out if an employee is under the influence while on the job.

  25. No it won’t. Companies can ban marijuana use by employees. That’s why so many do drug testing even in states where it is legal.

  26. The NFL is not a government agency. It can ban PEDs and weed if it wants. The legalization of weed is being done to enhance revenue for cash strapped state and local governments. It is not doing the public any good because now there are more cases of driving under the influence of weed. Public safety is worse as a result.

  27. Despite state laws companies and corporations can still ban use. MJ is legal in Washington but you can still be fired for use. It may be legal in states for recreational use but as long as it is a Federally banned substance companies can still use it for cause to terminate employment. NFL should be no different.

  28. Even if a state’s district court ruled in favor of the employee who was not hired or terminated for this reason, would the case ultimately end up in federal court? Honest question, not at all trying to be argue an opposing point.

  29. Evolution of state laws will make it harder for NFL to ban marijuana…

    No, it doesn’t. Employers can set conditions of employment. Many are doing that already with cigarettes, testing employees for nicotine and terminating them if they test positive.

    On a side note…even if every state legalizes marijuana, the federal government has not. So, any federal employees are banned from using it or facing termination.

  30. Federal law supercedes state law. Just because it is legal in a state, does not mean everyopne can do it. Military personnel, commercial Vehicle Operators (truck drivers)etc. are still banned from use. Any business can make non use of drugs as a condition of employment.
    Not saying I agree or disagree, but that’s the way it is

  31. Not at all. If your employer says as a condition of your employment, you cannot use marijuana, then you can’t. Laws would be irrelevant. Pot is legal in DC. But if your a federal employee in DC and have to submit to drug tests, you better hope you don’t test positive for pot.

  32. should ban alcohol consumption. i gave it up years ago. everyone else should also. your life doesnt need to revolve around changing your mood or feeling good. read a book, improve your home, things like that.

  33. Sorry. I missed the last line. But since the pop culture impact on marijuana is that is seen as being relatively harmless. Laden with benefits. So then, why should public safety implications matter?

  34. What will also be interesting to see are the new studies being done now that the legalization movement has built up steam. And the more time goes by, the more damaging info is coming out about daily pot use. You think CTE is an issue? White Matter damage in the brain is scary stuff and the studies are pointing daily pot use to dementia and White matter damage. If the NFL “cares about the health” of their players then I don’t see how pot is allowed.

  35. bcsublime says:
    January 8, 2020 at 9:13 pm
    It’s still a controlled substance on the federal level.
    ___________________________________
    And that’s sad because they list marijuana on a higher scale than Cocaine
    Methamphetamine, OxyContin, Adderall, Ritalin, Methadone, Fentanyl, Dexedrine and Vicodin.

  36. Just because a drug is made legal does not preclude the NFL from banning its use for people who want to play in the league. You have no right to be employed by any employer and the employer is free to define what substances it wants to test for and to ban.

  37. Alochol is legal but you can’t come to work drunk, weed is legal in some states so there needs to be a test to determine how much THC is in their system. Not rocket science.

  38. The major reason most corporations drug test is for insurance purposes. Employers themselves don’t really care, but the insurance companies will look for any reason they can not to support a claim of workman’s comp, etc. so that is why a lot of companies test. Obviously that is not the case for the NFL, but way to go Nevada for standing up for freedom!

    Kind of ironic that Nevada went from nearly instant felony for any marijuana possession to full on legal. Just goes to show things can change quickly with the right leadership!

  39. boffo97 says:
    January 8, 2020 at 9:16 pm
    I’d call professional football a safety-sensitive job as a player under the influence of anything would be a danger to himself and others.

    But maybe that’s just me.

    —————————————————

    surely you must be against the use of the harsh, addictive, deadly painkillers that these players are prescribed in lieu of cannabis then

  40. Everyone acts like 330 pound lineman with speed grow on trees, the n.f l steroid policy is a joke,yet using a plant to relax or minimize pain is still a taboo, the policy is ridiculous.And no,im not Ricky Williams.

  41. Whether marijuana is legal or not, what the proponents of it don’t ever understand is having a society which is reliant on drugs of any kind is not a good thing.
    I have never used marijuana or any other illegal drug and don’t drink or smoke, either. I have seen too much hardship caused by these chemicals and don’t understand why — when in the 21st century we understand just how harmful they all are — people still find it necessary to use them. Every time I voice my opinion on the subject, the potheads slam me so I’m sure I’ll get it from them again.
    The NFL and NFLPA pretends to give a damn about the health of the athletes, but we all know everything is driven by money and it’s all anyone cares about — including the players. So if it makes it easier for these bulked up players to handle the pain they go through playing this sport, then by all means the NFL will just accept it.
    After all, it’s the money they all rake in that is important, not the players’ health.
    So — let them use marijuana or PED’s or anything else they want to use as long as on game days we can all watch them run around like “crazed dogs” as Lawrence Taylor one so accurately said.

  42. The owners will wait to use this as a bargaining chip to get something else in return. Why give away something the players want without squeezing them for more money?

  43. dartmouthstevens says:

    There are plenty of people (I am one) who can not smoke because of their profession. Medical personnel in Mass cannot. As part of my job, I have to take a pee test on demand. Do you really want your doctor operating on you stoned? Or your airplane pilot?

    ***************************************

    Comparing someone getting high and doing surgery and someone catching a football stoned is a huge leap. Plus they are looking to allow the players to smoke on their own time, not at work. I am sure if the coaches catch players showing up to work high like any other employer they will have a talk with the player.

  44. It’s time for the NFL to join the 21st century. State after state is legalizing weed. It’s where society is going. And for those who are worried about people going to work while under the influence: it’s impermissible to come to work drunk, and everyone understands that. It’s the same with dope: it’s impermissible to come to work stoned. So far, several states have legalized weed with no workplace problems. I don’t expect any to occur. If the NFL doesn’t remove marijuana from its list of banned substances, there are going to be lawsuits in several states. The league might as well give up on this one, because they aren’t going to win in the long run.

  45. Let me say from the start, I do think Pot s/b legal. My issue is not with that.

    My issue is a state law that infringes on a private entity to hire and fire who they want. We are still (and should always be, an employment at will country, and the owners have the right to determine if the person is a fit, especially if the job is safety impacting OR decision-making. We don’t need State or Federal govt to be HR for the country.

  46. The amount of people on here equating public safety jobs with players in the NFL is absurd! An NFL player’s decision to use cannabis has as much public safety related effect as you or I.

    Their job is to play football, not do open heart surgery, operate a crane or patrol a street. They are private citizens which happen to be in the public eye, hence they should get the same protections as any other private citizen whether or not they are in the public eye.

    The NFL does not ban alcohol consumption; the same reasoning can and should be applied to cannabis.

  47. It doesn’t really make it harder. Companies can still say you can’t show up drunk yet alcohol is legal.

    The NFL can always restrict since it’s in the players contracts.

  48. v2787 says:
    January 9, 2020 at 10:28 am
    It’s time for the NFL to join the 21st century. State after state is legalizing weed. It’s where society is going. And for those who are worried about people going to work while under the influence: it’s impermissible to come to work drunk, and everyone understands that. It’s the same with dope:

    ———-

    Really? There is a simple measurement to determine if someone is drunk…..a blood or breathalyzer test. How does one measure if one is stoned?

  49. “Drinking and driving is a no no and using marijauna and driving is a no no.”

    “Alcohol is legal but you can’t come to work drunk, weed is legal in some states so there needs to be a test to determine how much THC is in their system. Not rocket science.”

    2 issues here. First is that, unlike alcohol, researchers have yet to develop a universally accepted level of THC at which a person can be considered to be impaired when operating a motor vehicle (or being at work, I suppose). Second, the metabolic rate of THC in the human body varies widely. Depending on the level of use and the quality of the product, THC can be detected in the blood of an individual for a relatively long period of time, from as little as 12 hours to 2 weeks or more, long after any impairment would be an issue. Also, unlike alcohol, only a blood test reveals the level of THC. In some states, a warrant is needed for a blood test (except in the case of a serious injury or fatal incident).

    I have no issue with people using pot to alter their conscious state, as long as they are not at work or operating dangerous machinery.

  50. pittsburghdamned says:
    January 9, 2020 at 11:42 am
    Filthy habit.
    =================
    So is smoking cigarettes, and that’s not the least bit illegal, except in certain environs…

  51. alifornianewton says:
    January 9, 2020 at 6:38 am
    The NFL is not a government agency. It can ban PEDs and weed if it wants. The legalization of weed is being done to enhance revenue for cash strapped state and local governments. It is not doing the public any good because now there are more cases of driving under the influence of weed. Public safety is worse as a result.

    ————————————————————————————–

    As with any argument, there’s a flip side.

    “The legalization of weed is being done to enhance revenue for cash strapped state and local governments.”

    That is certainly a factor. However, some politicians still believe that the government is supposed to do what the public wants, not the other way around. Broad support for legalization continues to grow. The Pew research Center reports that public opposition to legalization has fallen from 52% in 2010 to 32% today. So, two-thirds of the population either support legalization or are at least unopposed to it.

    “It is not doing the public any good because now there are more cases of driving under the influence of weed. Public safety is worse as a result.”

    I don’t believe that legalization has had any impact on the prevalence of driving under the influence of marijuana. Instead, I believe that any increase of cases of marijuana DUI are the result of an increase in testing. And that increase in testing may actually be as a result of legalization. People that drive stoned are going to drive stoned whether weed is legal or not. It’s not like legalization has suddenly increased the availability of weed – there’s plenty available whether its sale and consumption are legal or not.

  52. If you are drunk at work there are usual processs’ that they go through but eventually they could fire you for drinking at work or drunk at work so why wouldn’t marijuana be the same case?

  53. Bo Darville says:
    January 8, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    No, it won’t. Plenty of the NFL’s banned substances are legal products that you can buy at Walgreen’s.

    —————————-

    This sums it up nicely.

  54. Private employers can do lots of things. Do you think United Airlines bans use of weed, regardless of the state where the pilot lives? My guess is they do.

  55. Weed is fine. What I’d like to know is when the government is going to do something about dumb people reproducing.

  56. I believe the NFL will always have some clout with marijuana until the FEDERAL LAW is changed. That’s what ownership / management hangs their hat on in many work places.

  57. “Plenty of the NFL’s banned substances are legal products that you can buy at Walgreen’s.”

    False statement. Please list those products at Walgreens you can buy that are on the banned list.

    Its not those its the workout supplements you can get illegally or online and in seedier places that will push the banned list.

  58. Just test for steroids, growth hormones, maybe cocaine and other stuff. I am against it, but if the players say it helps with pain, then it should be allowed.

  59. cafetero1075 says:
    January 9, 2020 at 2:29 pm
    Just test for steroids, growth hormones, maybe cocaine and other stuff. I am against it, but if the players say it helps with pain, then it should be allowed.
    =================
    Just wondering why cocaine is on your list? Shouldn’t that be a personal choice, as well? The argument could be made that an adult should be allowed to partake of any drug hge/she wishes, with certain restrictions regarding employment and operating machinery. Interesting to me that people feel that marijuana should be legal, but not those “other” drugs. Alcohol has affected the lives of far more people than any other drug in history, and except for a few years during the early part of the last century, it has always been legal in this country.

  60. “Filthy habit.”

    Do you drink alcohol? Because people who get obnoxiously drunk like many fans do have a “filthy habit”. To each his own but one difference is alcohol can be consumed publicly but in most states weed has been legalized it is under the same restrictions tobacco is for public use, or greater restrictions.

    Meanwhile drunks can be out in public as long as they’re not driving.

  61. 919falcoholic says:
    “Cortisone shots at halftime will be replaced with smoking a bowl with the team doctor.”

    —————————————

    Teams would soon have twice as many “oxygen” masks on their sidelines;
    and all the free-agents would want to play for the mile-HIGH franchise.

  62. Companies can refuse to hire tobacco smokers, but can not ban weed smokers….kinda strange.

  63. httr4life4ever says:
    January 9, 2020 at 6:17 pm
    Ricky Williams ran for 2000 yrds in a year a rare feat for a running back all while on the influence of marijuana.
    ===========
    Ricky Williams never ran for 2,000 yards in a season.

  64. harrisonhits2 says:
    January 9, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    Meanwhile drunks can be out in public as long as they’re not driving.
    ===============
    Most jurisdictions have laws regarding public intoxication, which apply to drugs as well as alcohol. Usually used as a nuisance law.

  65. Even Nevada has an exception that could apply to the NFL:

    Employment Contract or Collective Bargaining Agreement:The protections of the Law will not apply to the extent that they are inconsistent or otherwise in conflict with the provisions in an employment contract or in a collective bargaining agreement. The Law, however, is silent as to whether an employer may bargain to include such drug testing in a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract.

    So if the NFL sticks to the no-pot stipulation in the CBA, it appears it would apply in Nevada as well.

  66. What people fail to realize… is that state law has nothing to do with whether employers can or will employ MJ smokers. They have the right to deny workers the right to do as they please on their own time much less on companies time. The NFL is no different.
    All this talk about legalizing/ decriminalizing pot means absolutely nothing if you want a job.

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