For the first time, the NFL does not test players for off-season cannabis use

Starting Monday, players in the National Football League (NFL) will be able to undergo random drug tests from the league. But for the first time, they don’t have to worry if they will test positive for marijuana.

It’s a new era in the NFL – or more precisely, a new collective agreement negotiated last year that established a new drug policy for the league.

As Boston Globe’s NFL reporter Ben Volin explains, under the new policy agreed by the league and the NFL players’ union, players will not be tested for THC – the key chemical in the pot – until the preseason. It’s the first off-season THC is not monitored during the random drug testing window, meaning players can comfortably puff up a joint or chew on an edible material until action is taken later this year.

As Volin put it, the “marijuana test” is now truly a “discipline test” for NFL players. You know exactly when it happens – between the start of the training camp and the first preseason game. All they have to do is stay clean for a couple of weeks, pass their test, and light up the rest of the season. ”

The new guideline officially came into force on Monday – yes, 04/20.

Players will continue to be tested for other substances such as cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates.

Cannabis and the NFL

It’s a radical change for a league that has historically struck a tough line against pot betting among its players, some of whom have faced long suspensions and heavy fines for reloading. In 2004, Ricky Williams, the run-back star, abruptly retired after failing a drug test that would have resulted in a suspension.

“In 2004 I retired to smoke weed,” Williams said in 2018. “Well, that’s not entirely true. I withdrew to take better care of myself. One of those things that helped was cannabis. “

Other players have found therapeutic and physical value in weeds as they rehabilitate themselves from the rigors of a long season. Some players got excited about prescription pain medication as they nursed these injuries, forcing the league to reconsider their guidelines.

Former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe has emerged as a staunch advocate of medical marijuana since retiring in 2016.

“This is medicine, and although people are able to consume cannabis and enjoy it in their free time, the application we’re talking about is the medical application,” Monroe said in 2017. “We’re not seeing that the NFL is trying to control the alcohol consumption of the players. ” or tobacco use. In fact, the NFL promotes these things. Cannabis is less harmful, less dangerous, and less addicting than either. However, we see these being celebrated. The NFL is even expanding its advertising for liquor. “

Earlier this year, the league announced that it was looking for alternatives to opioids like cannabis and CBD. The league has appointed a committee to investigate the “potential therapeutic role of drugs and non-pharmacological interventions that are considered alternatives to opioids in the routine pain management of NFL players,” including “cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (” CBD “)” . as well as the “effects of cannabis or cannabinoids on athletic performance in NFL players” and the “potential therapeutic role of drugs and non-pharmacological interventions considered to complement routine post-operative orthopedic pain management in NFL football players”.

In 2019, the NFL and the players union agreed to study medical cannabis as a form of pain management.

“I think it’s a proud day for the NFL and the NFLPA to meet on these issues in a very public way,” said Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer at the time. “I think it shows the spirit of collaboration we have on our health and safety issues. … Both committees are about providing players with the best possible health care. “

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