So here’s a bit of a development that I wasn’t anticipating I would be reading any time soon. According to an article from the Washington Post, “the NFL has written to the NFL Players Association offering to work in tandem to study the potential use of marijuana as a pain management tool for players, according to people familiar with the situation.”
As the article notes, “it is the clearest indication to this point that the league may be willing to work cooperatively with the union toward such marijuana use”, which has been in direct contrast to virtually every recent statement made by any representative of the league.
Of course, this does not mean in any way that we are suddenly going to find marijuana off the list of banned substances, by next season or at any time, but it is as least an encouraging step in the right direction, one that almost felt as though we would never get to take.
As I have written about previously, the NFLPA has earlier this year taken it upon itself to learn more on their own about the potential benefits of medical marijuana as a an alternative pain reliever to their current options, which many players, including members of the Steelers, oppose.
As of November, the Players Association had begun “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”.
Still, as early as the time of the 2017 NFL Draft, the league itself was very much against the consideration of marijuana, and the commissioner even used his platform to reiterate that. Though even he had to concede at the time that “medical marijuana is something that is evolving”.
Evidently, their views on the subject have been evolving as well, as they wish to join the NFLPA’s own venture in studying medical marijuana. The Players Association has, according to the Post article, yet to respond to the league’s request. A representative of the league said that “we look forward to working with the Players Association on all issues involving the health and safety of our players”.
Back in January, the Players Association had already begun campaigning with the league to urge them to consider taking “less punitive” measures toward marijuana use, with the director of the NFLPA saying that marijuana should be addressed in more of a treatment-oriented manner”.
“I think it’s important to look at whether there are addiction issues”, he said. “And I think it’s important to not simply assume recreation is the reason it’s being used”.
Steelers player representative Ramon Foster has weighed in on the topic before. Former Steeler Jack Ham earlier this year became a spokesman for a medical marijuana company and said that it would have been beneficial to his playing career if he had it then.