Does Cannabis Lead to Wedded Bliss? Maybe the NFL Should Reconsider Their Testing Policy

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Trigger Warning: Article discusses domestic abuse and links to a graphic video of a physical assault.

There has been a lot of media coverage of a small study which indicates that intimate partner violence is a significantly lower risk in relationships where both parties regularly consume cannabis. Of course, cannabis has the immediate effect of calming someone down, but it also lends itself to an exploration of the issues that might be causing the anger.

This intriguing new possible social benefit of cannabis use is coming to light at the same time that many are crying foul over the fact that cannabis is illegal and that punishments for cannabis crimes are disproportionately high when compared with violent crimes. This is particularly true when looking at the disciplinary efforts of the National Football League, which is clearly out of step with public opinion on the issue.

When Ray Rice beat his fiance earlier this year, he received a mere two game suspension. Video of the assault which has just been released makes it clear this was not a fair fight. Reports indicate that the NFL had access to this video when they decided that a two-game suspension was appropriate. Considering that players smoking cannabis in legal states have received longer suspensions, many people disagree.

The NFL, as a sports organization, has never really been all that concerned with the opinions of women, though in recent years they have been slowly embracing the concept of female football fans. Any social progress they may have made with their equal-opportunity hawking of overpriced merchandise went right out the window when officials from the NFL began publicly downplaying their league’s systemic issue with domestic abuse and violence against women. This included statements that women should do their best to avoid “provoking” their abuser.

A person is never responsible for someone else’s actions toward them, especially in cases of ongoing physical abuse in an intimate relationship. To imply otherwise is ignorant and cruel to the victims of domestic abuse. When compounded with the fact that the NFL routinely throws the book at players who test positive for marijuana but turns the other way for serious criminal assault.

It’s time for the NFL to update their policy on cannabis use to reflect cultural norms and the fact that cannabis is now legal in 4% of the country (closer to 50% if medical marijuana states are included). They should only be testing players for performance enhancing drugs. In fact, given how many of their players have violent histories and how many suffer repetitive stress or traumatic injuries, it might behoove the organization to start encouraging its players to consume cannabis.

What do you think? Should NFL players to subject to worse penalties for smoking marijuana than rendering their wife unconscious? Sound off in the comments below.


UPDATE September 9, 2014: Yesterday, the NFL responded to the leaked video by terminating Ray Rice’s contract. They have not addressed their out-of-touch marijuana testing policy, but The New York Times is now calling on them to do so!

For previous Ladybud articles that discuss the NFL’s marijuana policy, click here!

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