This weekend, the Super Bowl—which happens to be between the two states that have legalized marijuana—has shed new light on the use of the drug in the National Football League (NFL).
Pete Carrol, coach of the Super Bowl bound Seattle Seahawks, said in an interview that the NFL should be open to the idea of players using marijuana to manage pain, if the medical community comes around to support the idea. According to an interview available on YahooNews.com, Carrol said, “We have to explore and find ways to make our game a better game and take care of our players in whatever way possible. Regardless of what other stigmas might be involved, we have to do this because the world of medicine is doing this.”
Carrol’s sentiment followed comments last week by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell stated that the league would follow the lead of doctors in determining whether to drop its opposition to players’ use of the drug. In an interview with USA Today, Goodell said.
“We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that.”
The discussion has trickled down to the collegiate level, only to elicit a different response. Mark Emmert, the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), said in an interview that the NCAA hasn’t considered relaxing its rules listing marijuana as a prohibited substance.
“There hasn’t been any discussion to that effect, and I would be surprised if there is an interest in doing that,” said Emmert. “Our policies are our policies now, and I would be surprised if
The Seattle University Athletic Department declined to comment on the issue.
There has been conversation in the NFL about marijuana usage for some time. According to NBC Sports, former Broncos tight end Nate Jackson—who smoked marijuana while playing for pain-management purposes—estimates that “maybe half” of the league’s players use marijuana. Additionally, former NFL tackle Lomas Brown speculated that about 50 percent of the league’s players abuse the substance.
In their defense, the healing qualities of marijuana may be more useful for football players than ever before. Research conducted by Dr. Raphael Machoulam, thought to be the world’s leading expert on marijuana, discovered the healing of brain tissue in mice given a marijuana compound. Dr. Machoulam believes those benefits could translate to humans, too.
In an in-depth look at marijuana use in the NFL, Andrea Kremer of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” talk to senior vice president of labor law and policy Adolpho Birch about the medical uses of the substance.
“I think we can engage in a lot of what ifs” said Birch. “That certainly is an intriguing one to hear. Clearly, there is not something that is able to be put before us today to make it a decision that needs to be reviewed today… We’ll look at anything that we think is helpful to players, consistent with our values, and able to be worked on within the context of our policy, certainly.”
Even though the league didn’t change its policy when marijuana became legalized in Washington and Colorado, if more states loosen their laws the NFL’s policy could begin to look outdated. It remains plausible that players from Washington or Colorado could protest the ban given that it is legal within their home states. Indeed, Pete Carrol may be leading the charge.
The drug is even being discussed on the national stage. In an interview with the New Yorker, President Obama conceded that he doesn’t think that poorly of smoking pot. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” the president told the New Yorker’s David Remnick. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
Although there has been a seemingly liberal shift in the school of thought regarding weed among the states, there is no guarantee it will transcend into other disciplines. Until it does, Advil will have to suffice.