Ah. Fall is here – the Pumpkin Spice Lattes and crunch leaves are among us. Autumn is also football season. Collegiate and professional football have begun. The NCAA announced that players now have the ability to be paid directly and sign endorsement deals with sponsors. Such a decision is life-changing for many collegiate athletes eying the National Football League. However, one of the biggest turnoffs for collegiate-level athletes is the league’s stance on cannabis. However, that is all about to change.
NFL’s New CBA and cannabis consumption
NFL players can now celebrate as the league becomes more conscious of the idea of medicinal cannabis for active athletes. In terms of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, renewed roughly every ten seasons, the level for active NFL players found to have THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants was nearly 35 nanograms. This is a low amount compared to other professional leagues such as the UFC (50 nanogram threshold.) Possessing 35 nanograms of THC in your system is equivalent to smoking a single joint within 18-20 hours of compound testing. This means that an NFL player could have indulged in one post-game recovery joint of cannabis during an off-day and STILL test positive, almost always leading to a suspension from the NFL Commissioner almost immediately.
By increasing the threshold of allowed cannabinoids by nearly 4.5 times, fewer NFL players will not be penalized. This grants NFL players the ability and peace of mind to continue producing on the field. It is also worth noting that these new CBA terms consider the multitude of teams that operate in a market where cannabis is legal for medicinal and recreational use. One NFL football team, the Oakland Raiders, relocated to Las Vegas in 2020. Nevada also became one of the first states to outlaw employers (like the NFL) from testing prospective employees (like players) for cannabis and cannabinoids.
The NFL is listening to CBD and concussion debates.
The new CBA also allows players to use CBD by its players as a form of alternative medicine. Former players such as Marcellus Wiley and ”Booger” McFarland have candidly spoken out against the NFL’s pill-friendly nature. Club Physicians often prescribe players intense opioids such as Oxycontin and Percocet. Team Physicians were even prescribing these potent drugs for trivial issues such as ankle sprains and minor headaches. With the new CBA going into force, players will have the option to use CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, to treat their infirmities most likely maintained on the job. It is also worth pointing out that even though CBD is legal in all states across the nation, the NFL still had the cannabinoid on its list of outlawed substances. For context, the UFC bans Performance-Enhancing Drugs, or PEDs, but is a-ok with fighters who test positive for pure Bolivian uncut cocaine.
The NFL cannabis martyrs of before
Josh Gordon is formally Wide Receiver for the NFL who is currently barred from the league due to his infinite number of flunked drug tests thanks to THC. Since 2012, Gordon has been somewhat of an Activist for cannabis, remaining outspoken about his violations. Furthermore, Gordon, the all-time leader in receiving yards during this time, stated that he smoked cannabis before “every game [I] ever played.”
Despite this, Josh Gordon also made it to the Pro Bowl during his 2013 star-studded season. Gordon would become a Champion four seasons later with the prestigious New England Patriots. Aside from Ricky Williams of the days gone by, Gordon is the most productive cannabis consumer the NFL has ever seen, and it’s not even close. We hope the new CBA retrospectively removes the stigma associated with the hall of fame career possessed by Josh Gordon.