Most Americans approve of professional athletes using marijuana for pain

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans approve of professional athletes using marijuana to manage pain.

That’s according to an exclusive Yahoo/Marist Poll conducted in March, which found that 69 percent of the 1,122 adults questioned would have no problem with athletes using marijuana to recuperate from the physical impact of their sports. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they disapproved, while 5 percent said they didn’t know.

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The same poll found that similar proportions of Americans did not have a problem with athletes using marijuana for recreational purposes. The most likely people to lose respect for athletes who use marijuana were older (52 percent of respondents 70 and older), political conservatives (47 percent) and those who have not tried marijuana (43 percent).

The poll’s findings come just months after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell indicated he may be open to negotiating with the NFL Players Association to alter the league’s policy when it comes to marijuana usage among players. Marijuana is currently banned by the league, but players not in the substance-abuse program are tested for recreational drugs only once per year in a testing period that lasts from April 20 to early August.

Several former NFL players, including Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, have become vocal proponents of NFL players using marijuana to manage pain. McMahon, who is 57 and suffers from early onset dementia and depression, said marijuana has allowed him to stop taking the narcotic painkillers he was reliant upon during his career. He believes he would be in better shape had marijuana and not pills been used to treat pain during his playing career.


Medicinal marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Only nine NFL teams play in a state where medicinal marijuana is not legally allowed.

Marijuana use is banned by the NBA, but enforcement of the rule is seen as lax. “Marijuana is not at the top of our list,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told GQ in 2014.

The NHL does not discipline its players for marijuana use, while MLB players are not randomly tested for any recreational drugs.


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