Pot Less Dangerous Than Alcohol, NFL Players Say

By Paul Gaita 09/03/14

Despite changing attitudes toward weed nationally, the NFL still views smoking pot to be more harmful than beating one's wife.

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As controversy continues to swirl around the National Football League’s policies toward marijuana use, the players themselves have voiced their opinion on the issue in a poll conducted by ESPN.com‘s NFL Nation.

More than 100 players were asked if they agreed with a statement made by President Barack Obama to the New Yorker in January, in which he said that he did not consider pot as dangerous as alcohol. Though no specific reasons for the political angle of the poll were given, 75% of the 82 players that participated in the poll said that they agree with the president.

The results of the poll come as the NFL’s attitudes towards drug use and marijuana in particular have made headlines in both professional sports and national news. The league’s current policy requires all players who test positive for pot to enter its drug program. A second positive test can result in a four-game suspension, while subsequent repeat offenses generate more severe penalties.

However, the year-long suspension of Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon for a second positive test, and the furor ignited by the league’s decision to suspense Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games after being videotaped assaulting his fiancée, have placed the NFL drug policies in the spotlight. The latter incident spurred NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the league’s penalties regarding domestic violence, which bolstered hopes for renegotiation of the league’s drug policies.

But while the NFL appeared to express some interest in renegotiating the policy in May of this year, a league spokesman refused to admit if any substantial discussions with the NFL Players Association were ongoing.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.