Drug Store Cowboy
Last week the curmudgeonly blue blazer donning, old money Dallas cowboy’s owner, Jerry Jones, went full iconoclast and applied reason to the unreasonable. Jones, arguably more powerful in the NFL than commissioner Roger Goodell, argued at the owners meeting to “let them smoke pot”. While this may not seem like a huge deal, it is. Football is rife with chronic pain and pain management is a critical issue. To date, NFL policy allows for a player to have a bottle of narcotic pain medication, a bottle of distilled spirits and a gun and be in total compliance with NFL policy and law but use of cannabis would make them a criminal. That is nothing short of rank stupidity and while its likely most owners know it; Jones was the first to say it.
As players leave the league and age and history take hold, the need for pain management increases and cannabis use can be effective in helping. Opiate dependence comes with a high price not the least of which is potential death. Cannabis has no known risk of death and while there are outlying accidents that could result in harm, cannabis use in and of itself is a farer safer way to manage pain. Sports is a critical system in American life, and should the NFL adopt this policy it’s a major step forward in cannabis acceptance. If finely tuned professional athletes are using cannabis for pain management, wouldn’t it make sense for weekend hobby tennis players?
In 2011 Derek Boogaard died alone and at the hands of the lethal mix of alcohol and pain medication. By all accounts, Boogaard was a young man in need of guidance and supervision. A staggering 6’7” and fierce on the ice force, Boogaard was said to have a sweet and shy off ice persona. His role as the ranger’s enforcer resulted in injuries and concussions for which Boogaard was given multiple prescriptions, all with the potential of overdose. With the bravado and decision making of a young man, Boogaard had a few cocktails on his medication and like many others, experienced respiratory failure resulting in death. What if the NHL allowed for medical cannabis and Boogaard abused his recommended dose? What would have happened? Likely, not much. Cannabis has no obtainable lethal dose even in the hands of young men making bad decisions. The simple fact is that cannabis is safer for not only athletes but for everyone.
Jerry Jones is 100% correct. Criminalizing cannabis use in the NFL is wrong. There is positive application for it and it’s so much safer than the current policy. The player’s association has a clear objective to incorporate cannabis into a medicinal protocol. What is the resistance? As always, the resistance is cultural not scientific and it’s the players who pay the price. It’s easy for the owners to sit in their luxury boxes and drink martini’s while they judge players looking for alternative pain management. It also smacks of a plantation system and should be changed. Well done Jerry Jones for starting the conversation.
Author: Joe Schrank, Editor in Chief