Can NFL Players Smoke Weed? 2023 Edition
G'day tribe! I had a little bit of a break but I'm back refreshed. Can NFL players smoke weed? The league has always lagged behind the NBA, MLB and the NHL when it comes to punishing players for smoking weed. Let's dig a little deeper into the NFL drug policy and find out if players can smoke.
Can NFL players smoke weed? The league has always lagged behind the NBA, MLB and the NHL when it comes to punishing players for smoking weed. Let's dig a little deeper into the NFL drug policy and find out if players can smoke.
Can NFL Players Smoke Weed?
Yes, but it depends on the time of year.
NFL players are allowed to smoke weed under league rules. Under the current CBA which came into effect March 2020 no testing for the major chemical in weed - Delta 9 THC-carboxylic acid - will be tested for between April 20th and August 9th.
The highs continue for players with the start date of the non-testing window aligning with 4/20, the annual celebration day dedicated to marijuana. Once training camp opens in August players will be tested for THC but the threshold for testing positive for smoking weed has increased by more than four times.
A reading of 150 nanograms of THC is needed for a positive drug test to show up. That’s an increase from the 35 nanograms that was the limit under the previous CBA.
Does the NFL Test For Weed?
Under the previous CBA all players were tested at least once during the offseason for THC. In addition to that, 10 players were selected each week at random for testing during the regular season. All players will still be tested during April and August however the main chemical in marijuana, THC, will not be tested for.
The NFL also differentiates the use of marijuana and opioids differently to performance enhancing drugs under the updated policy. Players enter a treatment program and avoid suspension instead.
In summary, smoking weed is now legal in the NFL between April and August as THC is not tested for. It's a positive step from the league as weed is legal in more than 30 states for medicinal use, and legal in more than 10 states for adults over the age of 21.
Do NFL Players Smoke Weed?
According to former tight end Martellus Bennett, around 89% of NFL players smoke weed. Judging off Bennett’s calculations, that means almost all NFL players use marijuana whether it be recreationally or medicinally.
Former running back Ricky Williams is a prime example of an NFL player who suffered from lengthy suspensions due to a failed drug test from using marijuana. He was suspended five times and he missing out on two seasons of football.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon is another player that smoked weed regularly. He began failing drug tests in college and was suspended for a large part of his career. Other NFL players that have smoked weed include Laremy Tunsil, Randy Moss, Martavis Bryant, Von Miller, Percy Harvin, and Eben Britton.
NFL Drug Policy
The NFL has historically been harsh on NFL players smoking weed. Players have experienced long suspensions, sackings and have even been banned for life for smoking weed. NFL owners have felt the impacts of those tough policies with the suspensions impacting teams from putting their best players on the field.
Take for example Ricky Williams and his five suspensions, which included missing the entire 2006 season. He scored 66 touchdowns and rushed for more than 10,000 yards in his career, but imagine the numbers he could have scored if not for the games he missed.
Former Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver Martavis Bryant is another played who copped a suspension for an entire season, missing the entire 2016 season. He was conditionally reinstated to the league in 2018 joining the Oakland Raiders, only to be suspended indefinitely again for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement.
There are many more examples, but these are just some instances of the harsh stance the NFL has had on weed, especially when you consider Ray Rice's initial two-game suspension for a 2015 drunken rampage where he knocked out his wife. It was only once footage was released that Ray Rice would be released.
A major shift under the new CBA is that a "neutral decision-maker" decides on the official ruling on most disciplinary cases for players, whereas it was the commissioner who would make the decision under the old CBA.
Ricky Williams really got boned by the NFL. Dude just wanted to spark a little weed for his anxiety while running for a thousand every year and he got treated like he was fucking El Chapo. I call bullshit. pic.twitter.com/EflGjHmLAw— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) April 15, 2023
NFL Marijuana Punishment
Under the current NFL marijuana punishment guidelines players no longer need to fear being suspended for a positive marijuana test between the months of April and August. NFL players are allowed to smoke weed between this time. Upon testing, only levels of over 150 nanograms of THC detected will mean a failed test. As per the NFL’s Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse seen here, punishment for a failed drug test will see them enter Stage One of the league's Intervention Program outlined under the policy.
All players may be subjected to unannounced testing and only if a player fails to cooperate with the evaluation process or fails to comply with a Treatment Plan will they be fined a total of two-seventeenths of their base salary, and then moving onto Stage Two of the Intervention Program.
Only players who fail to cooperate with the evaluation process or fail to comply with a Treatment Plan in Stage Two will then face suspension.
What Drugs Are Banned in NFL?
The list of Prohibited Substances in the NFL includes anabolic/androgenic steroids, protein and peptide hormones, anti-estrogenic agents, selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMS), masking agents and stimulants.
You can check the full list here as per the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NFL’s Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse can also be seen here. This policy focuses on the abuse of cocaine, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, opiates and opioids, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and phencyclidine (PCP).
Does Weed Help With Football?
Smoking weed is an unconventional way to help football players to relieve the physical and mental strains associated with the physicality of football. Former Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is an advocate for weed.
Williams spent a lot of his time in the NFL on the substance abuse program. Nowadays you’ll find Williams advocating the benefits of medicinal marijuana. Williams has even opened his own cannabis based product line called Real Wellness. His business began selling products in select California marijuana dispensaries.
Williams strongly supports NFL players who smoke weed, believing weed should be fully legalized as a means of pain management, pointing to the dangerous and widespread use of opioids.
Opioid use according to a Washington University School of Medicine study is out of control. It found 52% of 644 NFL players in 2011 had said they had used prescribed opioids during their playing career. Out of those, 71% stated they misused their prescribed drugs.
Following the 2019 death of LA Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs following an accidental drug overdose from a cocktail of opioids, oxycodone and fentanyl, the MLB changed its drug policy removing marijuana from the banned list and treating it like it does with alcohol.
Mandatory testing was added to the policy for cocaine and opioids. Former superstar Calvin 'Megatron' Johnson admitted that he “smoked pot after every game” in order to avoid the deadly opiates that the league prescribes to treat pain.
Calvin Johnson: "I smoked weed after every game."Josh Gordon: pic.twitter.com/7lAJlCEycz — Pete Murphy (@petemurphs) September 20, 2019
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