NEW YORK, USA – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday, April 28 (Saturday in Manila) that he thinks the banned drug marijuana has an "addictive nature" and doubts the league will clear it anytime soon as a pain-relief alternative.
In all, 26 of 50 US states have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, with 3 more set to join them once already approved measures begin. Four states with NFL teams have legalized marijuana for recreational use and many more have approved medical uses, but Goodell remains dubious.
"I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use," Goodell said. "Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you're ingesting smoke, so that's not usually a very positive thing that people would say.
"It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered."
Goodell said the NFL would continue to evaluate marijuana as a medical painkiller.
"It's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game," Goodell said. "We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road."
Goodell's comments Friday met with criticism from former NFL players who have argued in favor of relaxing marijuana rules.
Eben Britton, a former Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears offensive tackle, challenged Goodell's assertion that marijuana was addictive.
"Stating incorrect information as if it were fact is detrimental to the function of our society," Britton wrote in a post on Instagram.
"Roger would be wise to educate himself properly on the realities," added Britton, who has said he smoked marijuana during his career to relieve pain.
Chris Borland, 26, the former San Francisco 49ers linebacker who retired from the sport in 2015 because of concerns about head injuries, added on Twitter: "Dear Roger, MJ (marijuana) is not addictive. Opioids are. Please help create healthier alternatives."
Goodell meanwhile suggested he would consider reviewing his stance on marijuana in future if he received advice from experts who study the issue on behalf of the league and the NFL Players Association.
"If people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the NFLPA and the NFL, and we'll sit down and talk about that," Goodell said.
"To date, they haven't said this is a change we think you should make that's in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, we're certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven't really said that." – Rappler.com