Debating the NFL's harsh stance on marijuana in comparison to their widely tolerated use of prescription opiate-based narcotics among players.
Some time ago I wrote a piece for NFL Spinzone on Marijuana and Crime in the NFL and here I go lighting up the debate once again. This debate however, is focused more so on the struggles players face with pain and prescription narcotics and the policies set forth by the NFL. Due to the nature of the topic I have decided to make this particular piece an independent publication.
My insight into the topic varies from most. Yes I have smoked marijuana, and yes, I have inhaled. Let me leave out the details on how many times and over how many years.
Additionally, I have endured many years of heavy-duty narcotics like vicodin, percocet, opana, among others. The struggle I found was fortunately not with addiction, rather the lack of its effectiveness after several years of daily use.
I found myself with two options.
In case some of you are wondering, my own issues include:
Recurring dislocations and instability in both shoulders, extreme spasms underneath and surrounding my shoulder blade, motor tremors in my hand, a pinched nerve in my neck and a plethora of spinal issues. There are others, but I think that should about cover my qualifications on the topic.
My point is that many NFL players find themselves in a relatively similar position given the wear and tear the game provides. Pain is an inevitable part of life. For me, and a great many others, marijuana offers a very legitimate alternative to highly addictive prescription meds.
I have listened to arguments both for and against marijuana usage, as well as arguments regarding the use of prescription narcotics. Some arguments hold a degree of merit, although my experiences have stabilized my own thoughts. I have yet to hear any legitimate argument however, for heavy narcotic usage over the usage of marijuana.
The simple fact is that the dangers of narcotics are extremely severe, regardless of legality. Our nation’s opioid crisis has finally brought attention to the topic, however at a grave cost to far too many.
The NFL however, seems stuck in its ways, claiming that marijuana usage is completely unacceptable, whereas narcotic abuse is widely tolerated as long as accompanied by a prescription. Even with a prescription, marijuana use absolutely outlawed. I would think the player safety campaign in effect since the concussion issues would open the doors of consideration, but to this point, pain can only be remedied with narcotics according to NFL policy.
Whether you agree with the legalization of marijuana or not, can you argue that narcotics are exponentially more dangerous?
Can you also argue the pain relieving benefits of marijuana?
I am sure a few grandparents in Colorado could add perspective. If the facts aren't proof enough then the issue you have may be seeded elsewhere. For me it is quite cut and dry.
I fully understand the need to hold players accountable. Children are fans as well and I certainly don't want my children seeing players they idolize act above the law. Yet the NFL essentially tells our children that smoking pot is worse than spousal abuse, sexual assault, cheating, and taking steriods and other performance enhancing drugs.
Every time I hear of a player being suspended four games for deflating footballs (a.k.a. cheating), or three games for inappropriately fondling an Uber driver, I can't help but wonder why sparking a joint could effectively end someone's career. Yes I know, they can indeed fail a couple urine tests before being shunned.
The problem with the NFL is that physical abuse is punishable, but tolerated. Sexual abuse is punishable, but tolerated. Cheating is punishable, but tolerated. Performance enhancing drugs are punishable, but tolerated. Yet utilizing an herb that can grow in your garden is, well, what do you think Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon would have to say about it?
I recall statements by Brett Favre, detailing his struggles with prescription narcotics. I know there are many, many more, but Favre’s came to mind.
I have seen the classic film North Dallas Forty, wherein a young-ish Nick Nolte portrayed a player struggling with pain, and pills. There is a deep-seeded problem in the NFL that has been well-documented, and thoroughly-neglected for decades. Some may think pot is not the answer. I most certainly do, as do many NFL players.
It is hard to dispute that marijuana is as intricately woven into our society as narcotic pain medicine, and alcohol as well. Some claim pot is harmful, yet it seems the biggest problem Colorado has had since its legalization is what to do with all the money. I say we ask Willie Nelson and Tommy Chong how dangerous it is.
It is also hard to dispute that the NFL needs to take a long hard look at its policies. Why are deadly narcotics allowed to be commonplace, while marijuana, even with a prescription, is not?
You may or may not agree with my own stance on marijuana, and I certainly understand those who want no part of it. Much the same as I understand the stance of those completely against alcohol usage. We each enjoy the right to decide what we feel is best for us. Unfortunately, the players in the National Football League do not.
Thank you for reading this first-ever installment of:
A Backwoods Take
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