With talks of a new collective bargaining agreement underway, the NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to form two new joint medical committees, partly to study marijuana as a potential pain-management tool for NFL players.
As reported by Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the agreement isn't solely centered on the study of marijuana, but rather "a variety of pain-management issues and strategies for players." And yet it marks a potentially long-awaited step toward a revised league-wide drug policy, not to mention a new CBA.
Despite its legalization for those 21 and older in 10 different states, marijuana remains on the NFL's banned substance list, with players regularly tested for the drug and suspended for positive tests. Through the two new committees, however, both the NFL and NFLPA will "review teams' policies and practices for the use of prescription medication" -- and other forms of pain relief -- as Maske reported.
"We're asking our pain management committee to bring us any and all suggestions," Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, told Maske. "We'll look at marijuana."
A number of former NFL players have been outspoken in support of marijuana as a prescribed pain reliever, while others have simply suggested the league punishes marijuana use more severely than it should. This offseason alone, former Dallas Cowboys lineman David Irving wasfor repeat violations involving the drug, while former big names like Tiki Barber and Calvin Johnson announced .
As Maske noted, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said before he would consider permitting prescribed marijuana use by players "only if that practice were to be established as valid by medical and scientific experts." Any major changes to the league's current drug policies would have to come either through the NFL and NFLPA's yearly policy meetings or within future CBA negotiations. The current CBA expires following the 2020 season.