While the NFL is infamous for sparking many hot topics of debate, one issue has persevered through the years and is only gaining momentum as more athletes and advocates speak out: medical marijuana.
While highly respected players across generations from Jim McMahon to the recently retired Eugene Monroe have been extremely public in their support—both vocal and financial—of medical marijuana’s overwhelming benefits to player injuries, the NFL higher-ups have simply refused to listen. Testing positive for marijuana in the league can get you fined, suspended, and even banned from playing professional football, even if players are using it medically.
However, now there may be a light around the corner.
NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Pellmen is retiring after 30 years of service. Under Pellmen’s reign (buoyed by the antiquated, anti-marijuana agenda of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) even the mention of using medical marijuana to treat injured players in place of highly addictive prescription painkillers was scoffed at. This opening of the highest medical position in the league leaves possibility for a forward-thinking doctor to take Pellmen’s place, which could be a real first step towards reevaluating the NFL’s current harmful stance on medical marijuana.
We’ve seen how long ignorant old men set in their ways can ignore science, facts, and straight-up proof that doesn’t match the misconceptions they’ve carried for years. A new, educated, unafraid chief medical officer of the NFL could mean safer, healthier, smarter treatment options for players suffering injuries that come with the game. The nation is emerging from the Reefer Madness dark ages more every year, embracing marijuana and its benefits and shedding the false propoganda that cannabis is harmful, useless, or without benefit. Let's hope its favorite sport keeps up.