Twenty-four states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized medicinal marijuana, with more likely on the way. It’s time for the NFL to do the same.
Recently, former NFL offensive lineman Eben Britton told the New York Post he smoked marijuana regularly as a player, and was even high during games.
“NFL games I played stoned were some of the best games I ever played,” Britton said. “My performances were solid, and I felt really good after.”
His use of pot was not all about recreation. Rather, it was relief from the stressors of the game.
Britton said he was smoking to relieve, at times, “psychological distress or sciatica or pain in my shoulders.”
The NFL currently bans the use of marijuana. If found in a drug test, players are subject to suspension.
Britton’s experience is not an anomaly.
When asked how many NFL players currently smoke pot, Britton estimated that “it’s over 50 percent and it could be as high as 75 percent.”
If that’s not high enough, an anonymous sports agent said, “The number is rumored to be as high as 80 percent,” according to the Post.
Britton has no problem speaking out as a former NFL player, but he is lacking support from those who are active. They make themselves targets of the NFL for opposing its regulations.
Eugene Monroe spoke out against the NFL’s regulations on marijuana, and was soon after released by his team, the Baltimore Ravens.
The ex-NFL lineman took interest in the topic when he saw the CNN documentary Weed, where debilitating seizures were curbed in children with the use of medicinal marijuana, according to The Washington Post.
If medicinal marijuana showed positive results in these children, could it also bring positive benefits to the NFL?
Monroe believes the answer is a resounding yes. He became confident in his stance that he went public with it, all while being an active NFL player.
The big benefit of welcoming medicinal marijuana into the NFL would be that it would replace opioids, or painkillers.
Opioids are legal in the NFL, but Monroe argues that the current situation against medicinal marijuana leaves players exposed.
When NFL players need to relieve pain, opioids are their only option. But opioids can lead to addiction, organ damage and overdose, according to The Washington Post. Meanwhile, cannabis is not addictive and does not cause death.
More research from Monroe shows that cannabis can treat chronic pain as effectively as opioids. Additionally, using marijuana after surgery would require less dosage than opioids would, reducing the risk of addiction.
Monroe learned that cannabidiol, a cannabinoid found in marijuana that provides painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties, can be extracted into oil and put into a pill that does not render a high.
Through this research, Monroe is trying to ignite change and get the NFL, as well as other players, to see the benefits to marijuana hidden under its bad rap.
If medicinal marijuana has shown benefits beyond opioids in reducing pain and addiction, then why should the NFL, or anyone, care? Not that players should be high for every game, but if it is administered as needed, it can extend a player’s career, life and health.
It’s not about getting high, it’s about healing. It’s about getting better. It’s about an alternative that might be safer than pain-killers and opioids.
If that is true, then the NFL should revise its ban accordingly.
“My life is literally at risk here,” Monroe said in The Washington Post. “Like I said, I’ve got children, man, and I worry for my future. I’ve already had a few concussions. It’s time for us to grow up, to move past ‘Reefer Madness,’ to understand [marijuana] as real medicine.”
Elizabeth Swinton is a television production from Linden, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.