Marijuana is banned in most professional sports leagues, including the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, as laws related to marijuana use have been relaxed and the benefits of medical marijuana have become more apparent, many professionals in pro-sports leagues are coming out in favor of relaxing this rule.
Potential changes to limitations on the use of medical marijuana in pro-ball are a widely publicized example of the types of questions that will arise as more states legalize medical marijuana. medical marijuana attorneys know that many companies and organizations have policies in place that prohibit the use of drugs and require routine drug tests. With the legalization of medicinal and even recreational marijuana, some companies may need to rethink their positions on cannabis use when performing drug testing and drafting company policies.
Medical Marijuana in Professional Sports
ESPN reports that Bucks center Larry Sanders as well as Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin have both spoken out recently in favor of changing the rules for the use of marijuana in the NBA.
Griffin said “I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it,” and that he believes “many guys would benefit from it and not take as many painkillers, which have worse long-term effects.”
Athletes face many potential injuries that can cause debilitating pain. Unfortunately, anyone with a serious and painful medical condition could potentially become addicted to painkillers or experience side effects from prescription and non-prescription pain medications.
An Every Day Health article touted the benefits of medical marijuana over painkillers, indicating that cannabis is generally safer than most painkiller medications from a doctor’s office. Drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin are commonly used to treat individuals who suffer from a torn ACL or other ligament injuries that often affect athletes. These drugs can always create the potential for dependence. In fact, more than 15 million people worldwide are addicted to these medications.
Regular use of painkillers also causes more serious side effects. Prescription painkillers contribute to more annual deaths worldwide than not just marijuana, but also cocaine and heroin. In 2010, 55 percent of the 78,000 people who died because of drug overdoses took a deadly dose of painkillers. Just in the United States alone, more than 14,000 people die each year.
Opiates have become stronger over time, thus increasing the chances that someone will take these drugs for pain management and become unable to stop. More than 12 million people in the U.S. use prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons, and the problem is getting worse. In 2009, for example, five times more people were admitted to emergency rooms because of pain killer abuse as had been admitted to ERs for painkiller problems just five years earlier. Overdosing is easy for people who use painkillers regularly and taking too many can cause respiration to slow and breathing to stop.
Hopefully, as laws and attitudes towards marijuana change, the benefits of cannabis for treating pain will prompt athletic associations as well as other workplaces to change to policies that allow for marijuana use.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
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