NFL Eases Marijuana Restrictions, But Drug Policy Is Still Ridiculous

Chris Roberts, SF Weekly

The National Football League loves drugs. Just the "right" kind of drugs.

Painkillers, for instance, are necessary after an afternoon of Sunday football, which is equivalent to being in multiple car crashes, even if the painkiller is so dangerous that it's banned in Europe. That helps especially if this carnage is fueled by human growth hormone.

The league followed Major League Baseball's lead and outlawed Human Growth Hormone in 2011, but somehow never got around to testing for Performance Enhancing Drugs. Meanwhile, players could be called to pee at any time for marijuana use. Weed was outlawed at levels so infinitesimal that suspended Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon's silly-sounding "secondhand smoke" argument might have merit.

This is changing. HGH use will indeed now be tested for, under terms of new standards approved by pro football's players union. The threshold for marijuana use will also be relaxed, but to a standard that is still twice as strict as it is in prison
Under the deal approved before the weekend games, the Players Association agreed to start testing for HGH and to more than double the allowable amount of marijuana in players' systems. This means Molly-popping Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, he of the giant horse-sized grin at the Kentucky Derby, as well as Gordon will have their suspensions reduced.

This sounds nice until you actually look at the details. 

The above Tweet lays it out as simply as can be: the World Anti-Doping Association still classifies marijuana as a performance-enhancing drug, but sports organizations like the Olympics allow for 150 nanograms of the stuff per milliliter of athlete's blood. That's 10 times the NFL's old standard of 15ng/ml (Gordon was busted at about 16ng/ml),and about five times the NFL's new standard, which is insanely low and tougher than standards in most American prisons.

Meanwhile, as medical cannabis advocacy group Americans for Safe Access points out, nearly all NFL doctors at one time reported injecting 15 players a game with Toradol. Many former NFL players are now suing the league after kidney damage they say is directly related to Toradol.

And the league's drug policy still leaves marijuana off limits to NFL players, even in states where the drug is useful. Legal or not, weed has significant potential as a painkiller, and as it's been posited before, cannabis's ability to aid neuroplasticity could help post-concussion syndrome.

So by all means, let's keep it off limits, and let's do so in a manner more draconian than the American prison system. 

You're doing a heckuva job, Goodie.