The NFL Players’ Association recently reported its intent to urge to the league a “less punitive” approach to dealing with the use of recreational cannabis among players. Union executive director DeMaurice Smith stated, “I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate.” Smith did not indicate the changes in the NFLPA’s proposal, which was expected to be presented to the union’s board recently. If passed, it was going to be sent to the league in order to try and collectively negotiate reeform to the drug policy.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated recently, “We certainly haven’t seen it or read it. I’ve spoken to Smith about it. But I think what it’s signaling from our standpoint is that the labor agreement we have has worked incredibly well for the players, for our clubs and for I think the game, in general. It’s encouraged investment. We see the salary cap, which may be projected to increase by $15 million a club. In the last four years alone, the salary cap has jumped almost $1.7 billion including benefits. That’s extraordinary and historically has never come close to being achieved before. So what we have is a labor agreement that’s working well for all parties, but we sent the union last spring a list of issues that we wanted to address as the league and as ownership. I expect, and we put on that list, the drug policy as one of those issues.”
The current collective bargaining agreement runs through 2020, but the league has urged for an extension. Smith said no extension will be agreed upon until changes are made to the current arrangement. Among those changes the NFLPA wants is a new drug policy. Although cannabis is now legal for recreational or medical purposes in more than 24 states, it remains a federally illegal substance. Over the last year, many retired players have urged for the acceptance of hemp and cannabis extracts to treat pain from football-related injuries, and symptoms of brain injuries and concussions.