It’s pretty common knowledge now that the NFL is falling a bit behind the times when it comes to the legislation and policy-making over the use of marijuana among its players. There are certainly many of you out there who do think that the league has it right when it comes to policing its players. Many disagree.
Among those in the dissenting group are the leaders of the NFLPA. The Players’ Association is looking to get the league to change its ways regarding the disciplining of players for the use of marijuana, which is legal in some form or another by now in most of the United States as the state level.
Union president DeMaurice Smith recently spoke with the Washington Post about their intention to present a proposal during the course of the offseason that favors a less punitive approach to handling the use of the drug by its union members.
This is clearly a topic that is relevant to members and fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers when you take into consideration some of the high-profile suspensions tied to recreational marijuana use that they have had to deal with over the course of the past two seasons.
All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell has begun each of the past two seasons serving a suspension due to his inability to comply with the league’s substance abuse policy. He was suspended for three games for the start of the 2015 season before it was reduced to two games. His three-game suspension that he served at the outset of the 2016 season was knocked down from an original assessment of four games.
The even bigger story here would be the case of wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who was separated from his teammates for the entirety of the 2016 season after he was suspended indefinitely without possibility for reinstatement until after the completion of the season. It was his second suspension tied to the substance abuse policy as well after he served a four-game suspension at the start of the 2015 season.
As I wrote about back in November, the NFLPA was already actively engaging in pursuing further research into the medicinal and pain-relieving benefits of marijuana, and this recent campaign for a new, less punitive proposal to the league would seem to be an outcrop of that.
“I do think that issues of addressing [marijuana use] more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate”, Smith told the Post. “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”.
Steelers union representative Ramon Foster also weighed in on the issue back in November, saying that it would be a better alternative to players being prescribed opioids in order to manage the pain that comes with the profession.