One of the things about the NFL that had me curious was how they could fine / suspend someone for the use of marijuana in a state where it is legal for recreational or medicinal use. I know that there are substances that are banned because, while not illegal, are considered performance enhancing or a masking agent for other substances. Marijuana is neither a masking agent nor a performance enhancer. Yet it can still get you in trouble with the league for using marijuana in the NFL.
A letter, first reported Tuesday by The Washington Post, may be the first indication that things could change. In the letter, the NFL has indicated it is willing to work with the NFL Players Association to study the use of marijuana as a potential pain management tool for players. This letter was confirmed as well by ESPN.
The NFLPA has not responded to the offer and is currently conducting it's own study. Their executive director DeMaurice Smith told WAPO previously that the union was working up a proposal on a less punitive approach to recreational marijuana use, saying at the time: "I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate. 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."
Marijuana is still derisive issue in the country. 29 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes with 22 NFL teams residing in those states. 8 of those states have legalized recreational marijuana. Yet the federal laws still forbid it and the current Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is trying to ramp up enforcement of those federal laws. The medicinal step was the first one most states took because it was the easiest to sell to the public that was against the use. But now the country is becoming more accepting of marijuana and the NFL will have to deal with the discrepancy between their rules and the state laws. By going the medical approach, they can stop testing without approving recreational use.