Will NFL change their policies on players using marijuana

“It’s time for the NFL to change its archaic standards to better protect its players,”

Calvin Johnson former Detroit Lions superstar said he needed some serious relief during his 2016 season on “Dancing with the Stars.”

“When I was on the dancing show, I was using a CBD (the non-psychoactive ingredient of the cannabis plant) topical that my buddy gave me because my ankles were swelling up so much that I didn’t think I would be able to finish the show,” Johnson said during an interview with the Detroit Free Press during the Toronto Cannabis Conference last month. “The relief happened almost overnight. I was already open-minded to marijuana, but after that, I became a true believer just because of the experience.”

Johnson’s current business partner, Rob Sims, had a similar cannabis epiphany after he retired.

“When I was finished playing, the prescriptions from the docs stopped. It’s a slippery slope when you come out of the league and you’ve got all the Oxy and Vicodins or whatever you have to manage the pain,” he said. “There has to be a substitution and cannabis ended up being that for me, and helped my wife,” who suffered from Crohn’s disease.

The two became partners in some real estate deals after they both retired from the game. But when Michiganders voted to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use they now are looking to break into the legal weed business in the state.

If they are successful then they hope to open a grow and processing operation in Webberville and the Saginaw/Bay City region, as well as dispensaries in different locations across the state. Johnson has gotten pre-qualified by the state for a dispensary license, but was one of dozens of entrepreneurs who lost out in their bids for one of 13 coveted dispensary licenses in Traverse City.

They are starting a marijuana product line that will go by the name Primative.

“The word Primative comes from the idea that there is this medicine we used for thousands of years before we got into the opioids and stuff,” Sims said. “We believe that the benefits and the healing from cannabis comes from a simpler time.”

Eugene Monroe, a retired lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, has become a passionate cannabis activist, urging the NFL to lighten up when it comes to pot.

“It’s time for the NFL to change its archaic standards to better protect its players,” he said on his website. “For too long, I’ve watched my teammates and good friends battle with opioid addiction and leave the game with a long road still ahead; it’s time to make a change.”

Monroe, who has donated $80,000 to research on the potential benefits of CBD in treating brain injuries, also is a partner in Green Thumb Industries, a marijuana grow and dispensary business.

Willis Marshall, a Detroit resident and professional football player with 12 years in the Canadian and U.S. Arena football leagues, is producing and selling a line of CBD-infused hair and skin care products under the DaO  label. He’s looking to expand into products that will also contain THC .

“Even in the Canadian Football League, where they don’t test for marijuana, prescription drugs are a dime a dozen in the locker rooms,” he said. “They hand them out like candy corn and that’s an unfortunate thing.”

The NFL has a strict policy against substance abuse, including marijuana, even though it’s legal for adult recreational use in 10 states, including Michigan, and for medical use in 33 more states.

Under the NFL’s current contract, players are tested once a year between April and August. A first positive test for marijuana lands a player in a substance abuse program without a suspension. That first offense also means that the player will get randomly tested for drugs at any time during the year, even in the offseason.

A second positive test results in a two-game fine, followed by a four-game fine for a third positive test, a four-game suspension for a fourth positive test, and a 10-game suspension for a fifth infraction.

“There are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad,” Martellus Bennett said. “You don’t want to be popping pills all the time. There are anti-inflammatory drugs you take so long that they start to eat at your liver, kidneys and things like that. A human made that. God made weed.”

The NFL policy has led to players finding ways to game the system, Marshall said, staying clean in the months leading up to the season when players get tested, then falling back on weed to help with the weekly bumps, bruises and worse during the season.

“Players don’t want to get hooked on prescription pills, so they’ll cut the marijuana out for few months because they realize it’s not worth risking your livelihood and your family’s livelihood,” he said.

The NFL contract with players is up for renegotiation in 2022 and the former players hope that the league will consider softening its stance on weed.

“Players should have the opportunity to use this. It’s safe, no one has died from it and it should be made readily available to players,” Sims said. “When you pull the curtain back and look at how guys medicate when they’re done playing, it’s mostly cannabis. From our football buddies, we’re hearing, ‘Yes, finally, it’s about time.’ We’re functioning and we’re fine and we have a great quality of life. I think we were forced into the light for the greater good.”

 

Source/image – Detroit Free Press

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