Former NFL Players Call On League To Axe Marijuana Ban

By McCarton Ackerman 10/22/15

Many NFL players prefer weed for pain management over league-approved opiate painkillers.

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Several former NFL players are coming forward to share their experiences with the benefits that marijuana can have on pain management and are urging the league to remove it from its list of banned substances.

Twenty-six players were suspended for substance abuse in 2015, and the majority of those came from positive marijuana tests. But many former players have stated that the number of NFL athletes using pot far exceeds that number. Former NFL linebacker Scott Fujita estimated that 30-50% of current players smoke marijuana, while former Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson told Bleacher Report it's at least 60% at “bare minimum.”

However, these former players have said that marijuana use in the NFL is far from reckless. Many of the athletes use it as a method of pain management that they view as far safer than the potentially lethal prescription drugs that the league provides.

“These guys are not going out getting high and playing football games,” said former NFL player Nate Jackson to the Orlando Sentinel. “It's more of a recovery thing ... When you get hurt in the NFL, they give you bottles. Injections. Pills. I always found marijuana was better for me. Opiate painkillers made me feel sluggish, down.”

Jackson has also contended that marijuana can help ease the effects of concussions. Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon has also echoed that suggestion and urged the NFL to conduct studies on the subject, but plenty of other medical professionals don’t share his view.

Dr. Julian Bales, a neurological consultant to the NFL Players Association since 1994, cited studies which show abnormalities in brain function and structure among long-term pot users as a reason why the league will never legalize it.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.