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January 31, 2014

"Football, Pain and Marijuana"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new New York Times editorial.  Here are excerpts:

In the lead-up to the Super Bowl, in which it so happens both teams hail from states that recently legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, pressure is mounting on the [NFL] to reconsider its ban. A group called the Marijuana Policy Project has even bought space on five billboards in New Jersey, where the game will take place on Sunday, asking why the league disallows a substance that, the group says, is less harmful than alcohol.

It’s a fair question. Marijuana isn’t a performance-enhancing drug, for starters, and more than 20 states have legalized it for medical purposes. The league would merely be catching up to contemporary practice by creating a medical exception.

At a news conference on Jan. 7, the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, did not rule out a change in policy. “I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries,” he said, “but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine.” On Jan. 23, he said the league would “follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that.” There is, in fact, a body of evidence indicating a “proper usage”: one of particular relevance to a hard-hitting, injury-riddled sport.

“Cannabinoids,” the Institute of Medicine reported in 1999, “can have a substantial analgesic effect.” N.F.L. medical experts obviously aren’t convinced, but N.F.L. players seem to be. HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” estimated in January that 50 to 60 percent of players smoked marijuana, many to manage pain.

Players, of course, have access to other painkillers, including prescription drugs. Yet as former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders has argued, “marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.” As public opinion and state laws move away from strict prohibition, it’s reasonable for the N.F.L. to do the same and let its players deal with their injuries as they — and their private doctors — see fit.

Some recent related posts via Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform:

January 31, 2014 at 06:38 AM | Permalink


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But Bill Otis and his fellow drug warriors know better than NFL players how they should manage the pain caused by their football injuries.

Posted by: Will Swanson | Jan 31, 2014 10:43:18 AM

Pop quiz: Who knows most about whether smoked marijuana is an acceptable medicine:

1) Football players.
2) Editorial writers.
3) Druggies.
4) The American Medical Association.

OK, pencils down!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 31, 2014 2:14:30 PM

How about Patients who says it helps them? Cancer patients!

Posted by: Anon | Jan 31, 2014 3:41:33 PM

Well it definitely is not 2 and 4 who have zero experience with the aforementioned drug(s). It is definitely not the DOJ or DEA. Amazingly, someone still believes the propaganda from "Reefer Madness".

The government, its lawmakers and enforcers operating outside of constitutional constraints know everything! NOT

Eric K, if the Tea Party and selected libertarian believers can't put this country back on the right track, we are doomed by our own need for "Bread and Circuses".

Posted by: albeed | Jan 31, 2014 4:34:10 PM

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