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Browns OL Joe Thomas: NFL marijuana policy is 'outdated'

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

Joe Thomas thinks the NFL's substance-abuse policy needs to be updated. (USATSI)
Joe Thomas thinks the NFL's substance-abuse policy needs to be updated. (USATSI)

The Browns lost wide receiver Josh Gordon for the season this week, when the NFL upheld his one-year suspension. Gordon was suspended because he failed a drug test earlier this year.

On Thursday, the Browns played their first game since Gordon's suspension was announced and naturally, the wide receiver's name came up in postgame conversation.

In an interview with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, offensive lineman Joe Thomas didn't defend Gordon's actions, but he did strongly criticize the NFL's substance-abuse policy, saying it's "outdated" and "doesn't accurately reflect the morals of society today."

"I think looking at the NFL drug program, I think they haven't really touched it in a lot of years because it's kinda been the one thing when you're collectively bargaining that it kinda gets put to the end and then when you're close on a deal you just say 'ahh let's just leave it how it's been' rather than actually work on maybe some issues that are there," Thomas said.

The Browns' Pro Bowl left tackle says the league and players union should look at updating the drug policy now, not in eight years when the new CBA expires.

"I think there's a resistance from management of the NFL and also from the players association to do that type of needed updating of the drug policy because obviously there's some oversights when they wrote the program and some cultural changes that have happened that I don't think the program accurately reflects the morals of society today and the NFL and pro sports in general," Thomas said.

Thomas is worried that the players are going to be stuck with an outdated policy.

"Obviously the commissioner got a lot of flack for what happened with Ray Rice and I think with the discipline policy he has carte blanche to do whatever he wants, but with the drug policy that's collectively bargained," Thomas said. "Until him and [NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice] Smith actually want to get together and fix some of it, I think we're going to be stuck with an outdated policy."

As it stands right now, the league's policy punishes players who measure over 15 nanograms per milliliter in a drug test. That's more stringent than the 50 ng/ml threshold for MLB. The World Anti-Doping Agency, which regulates testing in the Olympics, recently raised its threshold to 150 ng/ml.

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