NHL doesn’t ban cannabis; neither should the NFL

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If marijuana is good enough for the national hockey league, it’s good enough for pro football

In the wake of Canada’s decision to legalize marijuana across the country, the natural plant has been further thrust into the spotlight around the world. There are still those who blindly ignore the positive benefits to marijuana, but this is an ever-decreasing number. The debate is also spilling over to the sports world, which should also consider making some changes.

Currently, the NHL does not consider marijuana to be an illegal substance. Drug tests are conducted routinely on players to search for performance-enhancing drugs, but only one-third of those tested are selected to test for marijuana. If any tests “pop positive,” the results are put into a database to create a statistical snapshot, but no player information is recorded.

If an NHL test shows abnormally high levels of cannabis, the player could be singled out and the player could be referred to the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program in order to assess if there is an addiction problem. However, this is only in an effort to help the player – not punish him for consuming marijuana. It’s a pacific approach to marijuana use that seems to be working and there are virtually no recorded instances of players being called out for marijuana abuse.

If the NHL can take such a relaxed position on marijuana, there’s no reason that other sports leagues such as the NFL can’t follow suit. Currently, the NFL bans marijuana and any tests that reveal the presence of the drug can result in a player being fined or suspended. This has already happened on numerous occasions, according to a CNBC report from 2016. A former NFL player, Jack Brewer, indicated that the league had fined 20 players over $10 million, the majority of which had been due to marijuana use.

NFL players, as well as other athletes, struggle with pain. In order to find relief, they often turn to opioids and alcohol, two substances that can have deadly consequences. Allowing them to consume marijuana is not only the smart choice, given the recent push for marijuana legalization, but it is the correct choice and can help players deal with pain in a completely natural way.