It’s collective bargaining time in the NFL, which means it’s time to put some touchy issues on the table.

In addition to the biggest talking point, the installation of a 17-game season, next on the list is the NFL’s longstanding ban on cannabis use and its current draconian response to players who violate it.

The National Football League (NFL) metes out the harshest punishment to players who test positive for marijuana than any other major American sport. Some players have been suspended while many have been obliged to participate in NFL drug and rehabilitation programs, ultimately hurting their careers.

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) also takes exception to the wide window for marijuana testing, which runs from April 20 through early August. 

While the NFL continues to maintain that there is not enough research and information on the use of CBD to treat acute and chronic pain, some changes may be on the horizon.

The new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) reportedly includes a clause clause that would cut the unreasonable four-month testing period down to just two weeks.

And there’s more

The NFLPA may have also managed to move the needle on the “topic of drastically reduced penalties, and suspensions would happen ‘only in the event of extreme and repeated disregard of the policy’ or in instances wherein the player has a significant violation of criminal law in their respective jurisdiction,” per CBS Sports.

While this is a far cry from the NFL completely lifting its ban on marijuana use, it would at least serve to greatly reduce its harassment of alleged offenders.

NFL should know better

The Pain Management Committee of the NFL and the NFLPA held a fact-finding forum in mid-January 2020.

The session was designed to inform experts on the committee about current scientific research on how CBD products could benefit players who suffer from chronic pain, inflammation, and the all too common neurological disorder, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by traumatic brain injury or minor concussions.

Nevertheless, the NFL has, thus far, held to its outdated beliefs that cannabis is connected to “addiction, and exacerbation of psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety…”

Many football players and experts, however, will say that opioid-based pain drugs do that very same thing, and then some.

Retired player Eugene Monroe warned that the NFL was prescribing dangerous drugs to its players.

Monroe told Hill TV in late 2018 that the NFL needs to approve medical cannabis as a legitimate and safe alternative to pain management because addiction to opioids was far more widespread than many are willing to acknowledge.

“It’s more common than you think and unfortunately you hear about it in small spaces when a place with a big namesake has an issue and decides to come out and speak about it much later, but a lot of guys are suffering,” Monroe said.

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