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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Calls Marijuana ‘Addictive,’ Won’t Reverse Ban

Says league is open to “change” if league and players’ union advisers present a medical benefit

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Calls Marijuana 'Addictive,' Won't Reverse Ban

NFL commissoner Roger Goodell calls marijuana "addictive."

Streeter Lecka/Getty

Even though a number of states across America have legalized or are in the process of legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use, it doesn’t appear as though the NFL will change its stance on the drug anytime soon. While speaking on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” on Friday morning, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said marijuana has an “addictive nature” and may not “be healthy for the players long-term.” For that reason, he won’t remove it from the league’s banned substances list.

“I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered.”

“And it’s not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game,” he continued. “We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren’t something that is something that we’ll be held accountable for some years down the road.”

While there is evidence to suggest marijuana has some addictive qualities, it is far less addictive than the likes of alcohol, tobacco and the kinds of opiates athletes are prescribed to help with pain problems. It doesn’t help Goodell’s case when former players have criticized and sued the NFL for its reckless use of painkillers in the past, either. According to CBS Baltimore, court documents showed thousands of doses of powerful prescription painkillers were handed out to players during the 2012 NFL season. Former Baltimore Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe was one of those players to speak out about the issue, saying his use of Vicodin and oxycodone “changed who I was during the time that I took them.”

Monroe also wrote an article for The Players’ Tribune in 2016 about the NFL’s reliance on opioids while urging the league to remove marijuana from the banned substances list.

However, Goodell says he is looking into the medical benefits of marijuana. He claims the NFL is open to players using marijuana for medical reasons in the future, but he has yet to receive evidence from his advisers to change the league’s policy. When he does, Goodell says he’ll consider it.

“We look at it from a medical standpoint,” Goodell said. “So if people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the NFLPA and the NFL, and we’ll sit down and talk about that. But we’ve been studying that through our advisers. To date, they haven’t said this is a change we think you should make that’s in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, we’re certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven’t really said that.”

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