State Of The Game: The NFL And Weed

State Of The Game: The NFL And Weed

Football season may have come to a conclusion a few weeks ago, but for cannabis headlines in the game, things are just heating up. 
 
Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone, let’s talk about a different kind of bowl. The NFL has been grabbing recent headlines for a multitude of reasons lately, but here’s a rundown of the latest and greatest news from the world of weed and football.

Making History

The NFL has held a strong anti-cannabis stance for decades. Listing weed as a banned substance — even for medical uses — the NFL has made it notoriously difficult for players to benefit from the therapeutic properties pot can deliver. But all of that changed recently.

Running back Mike James, currently a free agent, injured his ankle during a game in 2013. He was prescribed opioid painkillers and quickly developed a dependency. To curb his prescription drug abuse, James turned to medicinal marijuana to manage his pain. In doing so, he reclaimed his life and was able to return to the game he loves. Just one problem: the NFL considers marijuana a banned substance unless players file a therapeutic use exemption.

James became the first player in NFL history to file a therapeutic use exemption in 2018. Unfortunately, the league denied his request, but nonetheless, James has changed the way other players view cannabis as a painkiller, and he has paved the way for potential reform of the league’s anti-pot stance.

Changing the Ban

One of the highlights of the NFL postseason is the collective bargaining period between the league and the players association. This year, however, is even more noteworthy because the topic of drug testing for cannabis was added to the docket. Currently, players are after suspended for cannabis following two positive drug tests.

Although we can’t expect sweeping changes anytime soon, the latest reports indicate that NFL leadership, including commissioner Roger Goodell, have recognized there’s no practical reason to prohibit players using cannabis. It’s unlikely that we’ll see any massive overhaul of the league’s cannabis regulations, but rather a more gradual process that allows for players to use weed first medically, but eventually recreationally.

High Times for Hall-of-Famer

Joe Montana is one of the biggest names to ever play professional football. Now, he’s hoping to become just as big a star in the legal marijuana. In January 2019, Montana was involved in a $75 million dollar investment in San Jose, California-based cannabis company, Caliva.

Montana certainly isn’t the first player to pursue lucrative investments outside the game, but he is one of the very first to look to the burgeoning cannabis market as a potential cash cow. Even more telling for Montana, however, is that this is his second investment in cannabis, following his 2017 investment in Herb, a Canada-based cannabis company.

As the NFL itself begins to take a more lenient stance on weed, it will continue to be interesting to see how some of its most high profile players pump money into the grown business of recreational and medicinal cannabis.