NFL offers to work with players’ union to study marijuana for pain management
IRVINE, Calif. — The NFL has written to the NFL Players Association offering to work in tandem to study the potential use of marijuana as a pain management tool for players, according to people familiar with the situation.
It is the clearest indication to this point that the league may be willing to work cooperatively with the union toward such marijuana use, which is currently banned by the sport.
The NFLPA is conducting its own study and, according to those familiar with the deliberations, is yet to respond to the NFL’s offer to cooperate on marijuana-related research.
“We look forward to working with the Players Association on all issues involving the health and safety of our players,” said Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications.
The NFLPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The NFL, according to one person with knowledge of the matter, wrote a letter to the union asking if, given the NFLPA’s public comments on the issue this year, it is interested in working together on research. The league’s letter outlined a few areas for potential research that included pain management for both acute and chronic conditions.
The union previously has indicated that it is, on its own, studying marijuana as a pain management tool and, in what it considers a separate but related issue, holds interest in making further changes to the league’s rules regarding recreational marijuana use by players.
DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA’s executive director, told Washington Post reporters and editors in January that the union was preparing a proposal to the league that would result in a “less punitive” approach to recreational marijuana use by players.
“I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate,” Smith said then. “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.”
The union separately formed a pain management committee to study, among other things, marijuana as a pain management tool for players. The committee is technically a subcommittee of the NFLPA’s Mackey-White traumatic brain injury committee.
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