The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) will soon be proposing an amendment to the league’s rules that takes a “less punitive” approach to those caught using or possessing marijuana.
According to the NFLPA’s Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, the proposal will soon be presented to the board of player representatives. If the players approve the rule change, it will be sent to the NFL for final consideration.
“I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate,” Smith said in a meeting with Washington Post reporters and editors. “I think it’s important to look at whether there are addiction issues. And I think it’s important to not simply assume recreation is the reason it’s being used.”
Smith says it’s important to note that even those using marijuana for “recreational” purposes, might have an underlying medical issue like depression that it’s helping with:
“We have to do a better job of knowing if our players are suffering from other potentially dangerous psychological issues like depression, right?” Smith said. “So if I look at this myopically as just a recreational use of marijuana and miss the fact that we might have players suffering from depression, what have I fixed? Worse yet, you may have solved an issue that gets the steady drumbeat in a newspaper but miss an issue like chronic depression . . . where a person theoretically might be able to smoke more weed because it makes them feel better but it’s not curing their depression.”
Smith continues; “So to me, as we’re looking at that front end — and it’s been a long process — the reason why I think it’s more complicated than just making a quick decision about recreational use is we look at these things as a macro-issue. And what we try to do is what a union’s supposed to do: improve the health and safety of our players in a business that sometimes can seriously exacerbate existing physical and mental issues.”
In 2014 the league raided their THC threshold to reduce the number of failed drug tests. Although the limit was raised from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 35, it has still led to the suspension of numerous players over failed drug tests, some of which are in states where cannabis is legal.