The NFL’s marijuana policy has received a lot of criticism, especially this year. The recent criticism is largely due to the fact that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon received a year long suspension for barely testing positive for marijuana, while former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice initially only received two games for knocking out his then fiance in a hotel elevator. After a video was released showing the knockout punch, Ray Rice was then dropped by the Ravens and dropped from the NFL altogether.
The NFL Player’s Association and the NFL reached an agreement recently which would change the marijuana policy that players must follow. Under the previous policy, a player could not have more than 15 ng/ml of THC in their blood. To put that into perspective, the Olympics has a threshold of 150 ng/ml of THC in an athletes blood. Under the new NFL policy, the threshold will now be 35 ng/ml. Per the NFL:
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordonwill have his yearlong suspension for marijuana use reduced to 10 games, according to Rapoport. No special exception has been made for Gordon. Under the new rules, 10 games is the standard ban for a fourth violation of the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse.
“This is an historic moment for our players and our league,” NFLPA President Eric Winston said in a statement. “We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide our players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game.”
I think it’s worth pointing out that Josh Gordon would not have failed at all under the new policy, so while his ten game sentence is less than a full year ban, it’s still unfair. Josh Gordon failed a test with a 16 ng/ml result. Banning any athlete for using any amount of marijuana is unfair. Marijuana is not a performance enhancer, and is safer than alcohol. An NFL player can consume alcohol in the privacy of their own home, and they should be allowed to make a safer choice by consuming marijuana under the same conditions if they desire to.