I am a huge fan of Baltimore Ravens player Eugene Monroe. That's not because of what he does on the field, although he is an amazing athlete and I plan on rooting for him this upcoming season. The real reason why I'm such a big fan of Mr. Monroe's is because of his advocacy and courage. He has been a powerful voice for cannabis reform in the NFL, and has risked his entire career to push for a removal of cannabis from the NFL's banned substance list.
Eugene Monroe does not consume cannabis. I can only assume that he has taken upwards of a dozen 'random' marijuana tests since he started speaking out, and obviously has passed them all. Eugene speaks out because he believes in compassion, social justice, and for that matter logic and reason. There is NO reason that the NFL should prohibit cannabis use, and definitely shouldn't be handing out the career crushing penalties that they levy.
Eugene Monroe, as an active player, risks a lot by speaking out, part of that involving simply being taken seriously. When most players admit to supporting cannabis reform, they are degraded and brushed aside. That's what happened to some extent with Eugene at first. I follow him on social media, and I saw some of the things that even Baltimore Ravens fans were saying. 'Why are you doing this instead of focusing on football?' 'How could you do this to your team.' Blah, blah, blah.
The fact of the matter is that Eugene is speaking out BECAUSE he cares about his team, and for all the players of the NFL. As I always say, I'm assuming he reads the headlines like everyone else about players being wracked with injuries after their careers are over. They are often addicted to pharmaceutical painkillers and experience all the problems that go with that. All the while they often aren't getting any better. Meanwhile cannabis can help, if just given a chance. That's part of what Eugene is trying to say, and fortunately, it sounds like the NFL is listening. Per NBC Sports:
Monroe's group talked to Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for player health and safety, and neurological surgeon Russell Lonser, a member of the league's head, neck and spine committee. The league apparently requested the call.
"They are interested in learning more about the potential for cannabinoids to help current and former players, as is evidenced by them taking the call, and also expressed a desire to learn more," said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania school of medicine. "They are definitely showing genuine curiosity, and they are definitely not throwing up roadblocks."
While that's far from an endorsement, the mere recognition of the possibility is a huge step for the NFL. Previously, commissioner Roger Goodell's answer has been a solid "I'll listen to my doctors, but no" on any marijuana-related questions, despite the fact it's legal for recreational use in two of the cities he does business in.
This is a big step, but it's also a very early step. It will hopefully be one of many, and hopefully each step is productive. I tip my hat to Eugene Monroe, to the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, and to the Realm of Caring for their 'when the bright lights fade' campaign. They have all contributed to this historic shift in tone from the NFL. This is a significant thing for not just the NFL, but for the greater sports cannabis movement, and the drug reform movement as a whole. I look forward to seeing where this goes, and what national conversations follow. If you have not seen the video below, you should really take a look. Kyle Turley is an amazing person with an amazing message that all NFL players, executives, sponsors, fans, and really anyone from any background should watch. I think it really hammers home the point that Eugene and former players are trying to make: