Jerry Jones calls for end to NFL marijuana ban
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, called for the NFL to end its ban on marijuana at an owners-only meeting this past week.
Reported by NBC Sports, according a source who heard Jones’ comments, Jones asked that the league consider dropping its prohibition on marijuana consumption by players. He was then told that in order for this to happen, negotiations must take place between the league and the NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) because the matter falls under the collective bargaining agreement. This would likely mean that the issue would need to be initiated by the players, and that they would have to make concessions on other issues in order to remove the prohibition.
A number of players have been suspended over the years due to their marijuana consumption, including star running-backs Ricky Williams, who is retired, and Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as promising wide-receiver Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns, who also played at Baylor.
Gordon is still under suspension however it is likely he will be reinstated for the 2017-18 season.
Recent Cowboys players in trouble due to the league’s substance abuse policy include Rolando McClain, Demarcus Lawrence, and Randy Gregory. These losses may be part of the reason why Jones is pushing for a new marijuana policy.
The Cowboys’ new running-back Ezekiel Elliott has also made waves concerning marijuana. During the 2016 season for a road game to Seattle, Elliott was photographed at a marijuana dispensary, though he reportedly did not buy anything.
According Williams, he believes that about 70 percent of players consume marijuana, a drug which has been shown to be far less detrimental to the body than alcohol consumption. He, along with many other former players including Nate Jackson, Jim McMahon, Jake Plummer, and DeMaurice Smith who is the executive director of the NFLPA, believe that cannabis can also help players in a medicinal capacity, and help reduce the use of prescription painkillers.
The NFLPA is already considering a proposal to change the NFL’s policy on marijuana, which was first announced in January. The proposal to modify the manner in which the league deals with recreational marijuana use would, if it is delivered, come as the NFLPA’s recently formed pain management committee separately studies the issue of marijuana use by players as a pain management tool and whether that should be permissible under the drug policies.
“I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate,” Smith said in a meeting with Washington Post reporters and editors. “I think it’s important to look at whether there are addiction issues. And I think it’s important to not simply assume recreation is the reason it’s being used.”
“We have to do a better job of knowing if our players are suffering from other potentially dangerous psychological issues like depression, right?” Smith said. “So if I look at this myopically as just a recreational use of marijuana and miss the fact that we might have players suffering from depression, what have I fixed? Worse yet, you may have solved an issue that gets the steady drumbeat in a newspaper but miss an issue like chronic depression . . . where a person theoretically might be able to smoke more weed because it makes them feel better but it’s not curing their depression.”
“So to me, as we’re looking at that front end — and it’s been a long process — the reason why I think it’s more complicated than just making a quick decision about recreational use is we look at these things as a macro-issue. And what we try to do is what a union’s supposed to do: improve the health and safety of our players in a business that sometimes can seriously exacerbate existing physical and mental issues.”
Currently there are 28 states, plus Washington, D.C. which have medical marijuana programs. About two-thirds of the league’s teams reside in these states, 23 teams in all.