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The NFL's Hazy Logic on Marijuana


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Great recap of all the compelling reasons that medical marijuana would be an improvement over alcohol and prescription painkillers for athletes -- and possibly for weekend warriors too.

The NFL has an opportunity to be a leader by legalizing it for medicinal purposes:

If the NFL truly wanted to be progressive — or just plain smart — it would be better off ending its marijuana prohibition entirely. Just Say Yes? An enthusiastic embrace of weed to rival the sports world’s longstanding love affair with alcohol? That might be premature. But a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell attitude coupled with the careful adoption of medical marijuana? That would be better for the league’s public image, and better for the health of the athletes who make professional football possible.

This is a very good point:

More than half of the NFL’s players may smoke pot, at least according to a recent informal survey of 48 current and former players, front-office execs, head and assistant coaches, agents, medical professionals and marketing professionals conducted by sports writer Robert Kelmko of the MMQB.com.

How do players balance pot and on-field performance? Simple: They don’t get blazed before or during games and practices. 

The same way players who drink tend not to down 12-packs of beer while on the job. Tony Villani, a trainer who has worked with 70-some NFL prospects over nearly a decade,once told the Wall Street Journal that he has seen "no correlation" between players' marijuana use and on-field work habits. Granted, some athletes will end up using marijuana irresponsibly if the league lifts its ban—but again, athletes already use non-banned alcohol irresponsibly, and it’s arguably more harmful than pot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drunk driving kills someone in America every 48 minutes and costs society more than $51 billion annually. Between June of 2012 and September of last year, Time magazine writer Sean Gregory noted, more than 20 NFL players were arrested on DUI-related charges—a number that doesn’t account for two Denver Broncos front-office executives who were arrested for drunk driving.

When the NFL began testing for and punishing marijuana use in the 1980s, it did so as part of an overall drug policy that was designed as much for public-relations purposes as athlete health and well-being:

America was in a moral panic over substance abuse, expanding its War on Drugs and producing insane pop-culture artifacts like this; at the time, appearing to condone pot might have offended football fans and corporate sponsors, in turn damaging the league’s bottom line. No longer. As is the case with same-sex marriage, social attitudes toward weed are rapidly liberalizing: Four years ago, an ABC News poll found that eight of 10 Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use, while last year a Gallup poll found that 58 percent of the country favors legalization for recreational use as well—the first time ever that a majority of the country has supported legalization, and a 10 percent rise from 2012.

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