The MLB no longer tests for marijuana, and the NFL may be following suit, eventually.
“I think that you should expect and will expect an adjustment” of the league’s prohibition on marijuana use, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.
Jones added that the ban on marijuana use could be lifted as part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Jones has long been arguing against the league’s stance on marijuana, which polices the private lives of players in furtherance of an outdated “war on drugs.” Adopted, as most disciplinary policies are, as a P.R. move by the league, there’s no longer a P.R. benefit to be derived from banning marijuana use.
Instead, the marijuana prohibition now does more harm than good, keeping quality players from being available to play.
But the league can’t simply abandon the ban on marijuana and the testing program that goes along with it. The NFL will surrender the right to test and punish only through collective bargaining with the union.
Which raises an inherently practical consideration: What would the NFLPA give up to get rid of the rule that prohibits marijuana use? Not much, since players who know how to navigate the process can easily do so, passing the annual test and smoking at will for the rest of the year.
Unless the league simply walks away from the marijuana ban, the only way to save face would be to throw the marijuana policy into the broader bucket of terms exchanged by the parties as part of the full-blown CBA. It would then appear that the NFL got something for giving up the marijuana prohibition, even if the NFL doesn’t really get anything in return.
But the NFL would indeed get something in return, because the evolution of societal views on marijuana have created a reality in which the very existence of the marijuana ban hurts the NFL more than it helps it, by keeping good football players from being available to play, for no good reason.