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NFL Mulls Lifting Ban on Medical Marijuana

Commissioner Roger Goodell's surprising comments may pave the way for change in professional sports.

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The next battleground for medical pot?
Photo via Shutterstock

By Shawn Dwyer

01/15/14

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Typically ruling the National Football League with an iron fist, Commissioner Roger Goodell surprised many when he spoke positively about the possibility of lifting the league’s ban on medical marijuana.

Speaking at length about a variety of topics, Goodell declared that allowing medical pot into the league was a distinct possibility. "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, but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine," Goodell said. Goodell’s response to the question marked the first time that the NFL has made an official comment on the marijuana issue since the legalization of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington. "The NFL's policy is collectively bargained and will continue to apply in the same manner it has for decades," said league spokesman Greg Aiello when both measures passed in 2012. "Marijuana remains prohibited under the NFL substance abuse program.”

The potential shift in policy could be a welcome sign of relief for players. Just this year alone, all-pro linebacker Von Miller sat out the first six games of 2013 for failing a drug test by testing positive for marijuana. Later in the season, the Seattle Seahawks lost starting cornerback Walther Thurmond due to testing positive for weed, and in July 2013 the New York Giants saw free safety Will Hill suspended four games for also testing positive.

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