Arizona may have legalized medical marijuana in 2010, but that doesn’t mean players for the Arizona Cardinals can use it to treat or prevent pain or injuries sustained from the aggressive sport. Thanks to the strict policies of the NFL Players Association, the use of medical marijuana is prohibited with no exceptions.
This may all change now that it’s time for the NFLPA’s annual review of their rules and regulations. The group has announced that a pain management committee will be evaluating the benefits of medical marijuana for players, a move that some of the Cardinals may be happy to see. An interesting little detail about the Cardinals using medical marijuana is that when it was on Arizona’s ballot in 2010, the team donated $10,000 to Keep AZ Drug Free, an anti-marijuana group advocating a “just say no” vote. Fortunately their efforts didn’t keep the bill from passing.
It’s not like players for the Cardinals come in with no history of marijuana use. Quite the opposite. Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu was reluctantly drafted as a third-round pick after several other teams passed over him, but the hesitation had little to do with his performance as a player; he was dismissed from his team at Louisiana State University for a failed drug test and even spent time in jail for possession, two of the biggest obstacles between him and the NFL. He’s since decided that football takes top priority in his life, and last month he donated $1 million to the LSU football program. Former LSU coach Les Miles has said that kicking Mathieu off the team is “one of his biggest regrets.” Mathieu is also #17 on 2016’s list of top players under 25.
Daryl Washington is another controversial case for the Cardinals. In 2013 he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault against his child’s mother, which handed him a year of supervised probation in court but no punishment from the NFL since he was already on a four-game suspension for marijuana use. A year later it was announced that he’d be suspended for the rest of the 2014 season due to marijuana, but he has yet to get back in the game. It’s still in question whether or not he’s even going to play again before the end of his four-year contract.
While most stories related to marijuana and the NFL are negative, there are players advocating for marijuana legalization in positive ways. Cardinals defensive lineman Frostee Rucker was set to own part of a marijuana farm in Ohio along with NFL hall of famer Oscar Robertson. Unfortunately Ohio did not vote to legalize it, so his plans are on hold for now.There are many valid reasons why marijuana should be permitted in the NFL, if only to reduce the number of opiate painkillers taken for pain relief. With so many players having used the drug recreationally, it may be time for the NFL to get over it and figure out how to use the plant to their advantage.