The NFL, as with so many other professional and minor league sports teams, still ascribes to official federal line on marijuana, which is that as a Schedule I narcotic, it is highly addictive, dangerous and has no medicinal value. Of course, our cannabis lawyers in L.A. know that runs counter to the evidence and what dozens of states have thus far concluded. Given that NFL players are some of the most tenacious athletes – and take the hardest hits – they more than most might benefit from medicinal marijuana as an alternative to powerful and highly addictive opioid painkillers. But until the organization changes its stance, we’ll continue to have conflicts such as those seen with free agent Mike James.
James, a running back, injured his ankle during a football game in 2013. According to a CNN report, he was prescribed opioid painkillers. In short order (as so often happens) he became dependent on the pills. He became aware that an addiction was forming and wanted something safer to ease the pain.
After some research, he concluded marijuana was truly the best option – to ease the pain, end his addiction and maintain his physical prowess. James had some reservations about this decision, witnessing the way drug addiction in general harmed his family and his childhood communities. But, like a majority of Americans, he soon learned that cannabis does not belong in the same category as other street drugs at all, and decided to take the leap.
The NFL, unfortunately still takes a hard-line stance with marijuana use by players, who are drug-tested regularly. (Yet League officials see no problem whatsoever with players consuming dangerous opioid pain relievers.) CNN points to to a study from Drug and Alcohol Dependence, in which over half of ex-NFL players surveyed said they used opioids, with 71 percent of them admitting they misused them. Support for prescription painkillers continues, despite many leaders – President Trump included – have declared opioid addiction an epidemic. When it comes to medical marijuana, though, which can be a safe, effective, and non-habit forming treatment under proper medical guidance, this is where NFL leaders choose their line in the sand.
As our Los Angeles medical marijuana lawyers can explain, the NFL is sticking by Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 812, which categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic. That means the federal government has passed judgment that cannabis has no medical benefits, is dangerous, and is addictive. Conveniently for marijuana naysayers, this Schedule I classification makes it nearly impossible for U.S. scientists to conduct studies to prove otherwise. Meanwhile, other countries, such as Israel, are leading the way in medical marijuana research, including a study that demonstrate how the drug can be a safer alternative to opioids. The Schedule I classification puts marijuana in the same category as heroin, which is a total farce. Ironically (and infuriatingly), heroin has far more in common with many legal painkillers, as it too is considered an opioid, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
What does all of this mean? Mike James is now being forced to choose between an effective medical treatment that is not causing him long-term harm and his football career. He recently became the first NFL player to file for a therapeutic use exemption, the only way around the league’s anti-cannabis rules. The league denied his application. James has said he will continue to fight. While he has his wealth and fame on his side, you have a team of skilled lawyers on your side. We know all too many average citizens must make these same critical choices when it comes to their career and their health, and our team is here to use our extensive knowledge of medical marijuana law to fight for your rights.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients, defendants, workers and those facing criminal marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
More Blog Entries:
Marijuana as a Replacement to Opioids, Dec. 6, 2017, Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Lawyers Blog