Marijuana has been a very controversial topic in the sports world particularly the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Both leagues have banned the medical and recreational use of this substance, although it has become legal in some form in twenty nine states including the District of Columbia. While NFL and NBA players are both subjected to drug testing for marijuana, Major League Baseball (MLB) does not test its players for marijuana unless there is reasonable cause. Further, the National Hockey League (NHL) only tests one-third of their players for marijuana use and those who test positive are not disciplined. It seems to be a different set of consequences for professional athletes for marijuana use because NBA and NFL face suspension and forfeiture of game checks. So the question is, why do the NBA and NFL test for marijuana and why is it illegal? Does marijuana give unfair competitive advantage? There is no proof that it can make individuals run faster or jump higher. It does not jeopardize the integrity of the sport. It has not proven to be a performance enhancement drug.
The one argument that I hear the most is that marijuana is addictive and it is a gateway drug. This excuse loses creditability coming from the same league that accepts money from alcohol sponsors. Alcohol is responsible for thousands of deaths annually, whether from vehicle homicide by driving under the influence or other health problems from alcohol abuse. If the NBA and NFL can profit off alcohol sales, then why the resistance to marijuana? The NFL also prescribes players opioid medications for injuries. We as a country are now in the middle of an opioid epidemic. There has been an increase of opioid overdoses and addictions each year in America. These leagues are putting athletes at risk with unlimited access to painkillers from team physicians. Marijuana has been proven to treat chronic pains. There are many players in both leagues that are strong advocates for marijuana use to treat injuries. The National Football League is facing a lot of scrutiny considering head injuries and long term injuries to the body.
Hopefully in near future these leagues stop pushing the negative propaganda of marijuana addiction and start allowing their players to use marijuana as way to treat chronic pain and injuries.