NFLPA to study marijuana as pain-management alternative for players

Former Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon says medical marijuana helped him shed narcotic painkillers for his post-football injuries. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
WP

Amid a growing chorus of former and current NFL players encouraging those in charge to look at marijuana as an alternative to traditional painkillers, the NFLPA is looking at the possibilities.

Via the Washington Post:

“Marijuana is still governed by our collective bargaining agreement,” George Atallah, the NFLPA’s assistant executive director of external affairs, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “And while some states have moved in a more progressive direction, that fact still remains.

“We are actively looking at the issue of pain management of our players. And studying marijuana as a substance under that context is the direction we are focused on.”

California, Nevada and Massachusetts voters approved recreational marijuana usage in their states on Election Day, joining Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C. with similar laws.

However, the NFL and other pro leagues have not shown any inclination to approve use of marijuana or other drugs, and many players have faced discipline for violating the NFL’s drug-testing policies – chief among them Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who has served multiple suspensions due to marijuana usage.

The league also issued a statement to the Post:

“This isn’t just the NFL’s policy,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a written statement Wednesday to the Post. “This is a collectively bargained policy with the NFL Players Association.

“The program is administered by jointly appointed independent medical advisors to the league and the NFLPA who are constantly reviewing and relying on the most current research and scientific data. We continue to follow the advice of leading experts on treatment, pain management and other symptoms associated with concussions and other injuries. However, medical experts have not recommended making a change or revisiting our collectively-bargained policy and approach related to marijuana, and our position on its use remains consistent with federal law and workplace policies across the country. If these medical experts change their view, then this is an area that we would explore.”