Should The NFL Reform Its Marijuana Testing Policy?

Ah the NFL, one of the most iconic institutions in America. It dominates American sports and is a part of pop culture, as well as being a culture all to itself. Howie Long, during his Hall Of Fame induction speech said that he believes football to be “America’s passion.” It’s very hard to argue with that, with the amount of fat contracts they have with television networks (ESPN has to devote a certain amount of time each day and week to covering the NFL, it’s part of their contract with the league), Super Bowl Sunday is an unofficial holiday, and the amount of people that feel a deep connection with “their team” and seem to live and die based upon their teams weekly and seasonal performance.
With the NFL having such a presence in American culture, mainly due to the fact that they created it, they have an air about themselves that is very high and mighty, and they are involved in many aspects of society that transcend the game, and they embrace it. They often like to consider themselves as trendsetters and leaders of change. After the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11, many people were able to resume normalcy to their daily lives because of the NFL and how meaningful it is to our society. The games played on.
Because of the NFL’s influence upon and presence in our culture, many people look up to the leagues players and coaches, viewing them as heroes, role models, and leaders. And the NFL loves it. They view them selves as leaders and promoters of change.
With that said, one of the hottest topics in society today is marijuana reform. Many states have legalized it for medicinal purposes, and a handful have legalized it in recreational forms as well. It has become quasi-legal in this country, and many people see that getting into any for of legal trouble as a result of possessing marijuana to be, well, a joke. So why does the NFL still take it so seriously?
Too many players in the league have had their lives and careers disrupted to due failing a drug test and testing positive for marijuana (which is silly in the sense that they are well aware of when they are going to be taking said drug test, and it only happens once a year). Former Browns wide receiver is a perfect example. Once thought to be one of the best young receivers in the game, with a very bright future and career ahead of him, multiple failed drug tests, all for marijuana, have him now facing the end of his once promising football career. On the flip side, many players consistently are arrested for DUI’s, and some for far worse things like domestic abuse and assault. Richie Incognito almost had his career ended for bullying accusations. Keep in mind that bullying is terrible, but when a fellow 6 foot 5 inch, 315 plus pound lineman accuses someone of bullying, it seems a tad ridiculous.
But a player who smokes some marijuana, which a lot of research has proven to be a highly effective pain killer, sleep aid, stress and anxiety reliever, and helps with neurological disorders (and the effects of prolonged head trauma is a very serious issue within the league and society right now), is ostracized and threatened with banishment from the league. And that, quite frankly, is absurd. It’s time the NFL truly decides to be a leader for change and fix their ridiculous and broken drug-testing policy.
I was going to write about this but you beat me to it! That's one less thing to deal with, thankfully. But, I agree, and the NFL is known for prescribing or at least condoning teams prescribing opiates to players freely. We have a pretty serious opiate addiction problem in this country that is growing while marijuana use, if it is serving the same purpose, has less chance of developing into the kind of addiction that opioids do. The NFL could make a statement by allowing athletes more choice in how to do their pain management.