Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe has had enough of the NFL’s antiquated stance on medical marijuana.
Over his seven-year career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he’s suffered multiple concussions, sprains, and shoulder injuries, which cause him to be in constant pain. Currently, if marijuana — medical or not — shows up on an NFL player’s mandatory drug test, penalties include fines, suspensions, and even expulsion form the league. This policy makes it so the only option for athletes to treat their pain is the addictive opiate painkillers constantly prescribed by NFL doctors.
“We now know that these drugs are not as safe as doctors thought, causing higher rates of addiction, causing death all around our country,” Monroe told the New York Times, "and we have cannabis, which is far healthier, far less addictive and quite frankly can be better in managing pain.”
Putting his money where his mouth is, Monroe has made a number of recent donations in the name of medical marijuana research, including $80,000 to Realm of Caring, a Colorado-based advocacy group studying the impact of medical marijuana on traumatic brain injury and encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits on the head. (Anyone seen Concussion?)
Monroe has also repeatedly publically called out NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for refusing to reform the league’s stance on medical marijuana or to even look into more research on the subject.
“It’s a shame that Roger Goodell would tell our fans there’s no medical vs. recreational distinction,” Monroe tweeted in March.
As Monroe is still active in the league, one might wonder if he’s worried about any backlash from taking such a public stance in opposition of NFL policy, but as Monroe does not use marijuana, he said he’s not concerned. According to Monroe, the benefits of inciting more research on the subject outweigh the possible damage to his standing in the NFL.
“My health is far more important than any possible career implications,” he said. “I want to be there for my family.”