The National Football League (NFL) punishes its players for using marijuana in a much harsher way than they punish players for just about everything else. A great example of that would be the case of Seantrel Henderson, an offensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills. Seantrel suffers from Crohn’s disease and uses medical marijuana to treat his condition. He has had surgeries to help with his condition, surgeries which involved removing parts of Mr. Henderson’s intestines.
Seantrel Henderson does not have the option of using prescription painkillers because of the surgeries. He is now in the middle of a 10-game suspension handed down by the NFL. Even after the suspension is up, Seantrel will still be suffering from Crohn’s disease, so the prohibition against his medical cannabis use is basically looking like it will be a forced retirement. To say that situation lacks compassion is a huge understatement.
Numerous other players have been suspended for marijuana use, and some have even been suspended for because they failed to turn over their urine as required due to a past marijuana offense. These are grown men who are choosing to use a substance that has been proven to be 114 times safer than alcohol, alcohol of course being widely embraced by the NFL.
The NFL Players Association is currently composing a proposal that would result in the NFL taking a ‘less punitive’ approach to marijuana use. Per The Washington Post:
Leaders of the NFL Players Association are preparing a proposal that would amend the sport’s drug policies to take a “less punitive” approach to dealing with recreational marijuana use by players, according to the union’s executive director, DeMaurice Smith.
The proposal will be presented to union’s board of player representatives, Smith said Tuesday. If it is approved by those players, Smith said, the proposal will be made to the league. The NFL would have to agree to any changes to the drug policy, which is negotiated and jointly administered by the league and players’ union.
The discussion in the NFL has heated up ever since now-retired NFL player Eugene Monroe became very vocal about his support for cannabis reform in the NFL. The NFL has a threshold of 35 nanograms of THC per milliliter in a player’s system. Anything above that is a violation. To put that into perspective, the Olympics has a threshold of 150 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or urine. The Olympics, the biggest athletic competition on the planet, has a THC limit that is over 4 times as much as the NFL…Let that sink in. Also consider the fact that all of the NFL teams listed below are located in states that have voted to legalize cannabis for adult-use (list provided by Uncle Cliffy Sports Cannabis):
California – Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers
Massachusetts – New England Patriots
Washington – Seattle Seahawks
Colorado – Denver Broncos
Washington D.C. – Washington Redskins
Support for marijuana reform is at an all time high, with the most recent Gallup poll finding 60% support for legalization. The fans want it. The players want it. It is beyond time that the NFL listened to its fans and players and quit punishing players for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. The NFL needs to get on the right side of history and have some compassion for its players. But first, the players association needs to approve the proposal. Here’s to hoping that happens sooner rather than later.