There are times when a player’s body just hurts really bad and he would turn to cannabis as a natural alternative to the more harmful prescription painkillers. – Martellus Bennett
It seems that the use of cannabis among professional athletes is higher than we would have guessed. A former football star has given us an estimate of just how prevalent marijuana consumption is in the NFL.
Former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett said that about 89% of NFL athletes use cannabis. The newly retired football player gave his estimate during a Bleacher Report podcast last week.
Bleacher Report hosts Adam Lefkoe and Chris Simms asked Bennett if more than 70% of his former compatriots smoke marijuana. The former football star, who had played for five teams in 10 seasons, instead gave an even higher number.
Bennett explained that the players turn to cannabis as a natural alternative to the more harmful prescription painkillers.
According to him, there are times in a year when a player’s body just hurts really bad that “you do not want to just pop pills all of the time” because it “ruins your liver.” He said that there are anti-inflammatories that one takes for so long that it begins to eat at one’s liver or kidneys.
Bennett added that while humans made prescription anti-inflammatories, “God made weed.”
The use of cannabis, especially as a treatment option for chronic pain and as a safer alternative to prescription painkillers, has become a subject of contention between the league and its athletes.
The Washington Post recalled that in July, the league reached out to the players’ union regarding the possibility of joining forces to study cannabis consumption to fight chronic pain. In turn, the union asked the NFL to provide comprehensive data on how the teams distribute prescription painkillers to the players. However, things did not progress from there.
Last year, The Post had also reviewed sealed court documents from a federal lawsuit that was filed by 1,800 former NFL players. The documents revealed that the teams violated federal laws that govern the use of prescription drugs and disregarded the Drug Enforcement Administration’s guidelines on how to store, transport, distribute, and track controlled substances. Teams also allegedly plied their players with strong anti-inflammatories and painkillers.
DeMaurice Smith, the union chief, told The Post that the players would like the NFL to take a less punitive approach to their use of recreational cannabis.
Cannabis is banned by the NFL and imposes escalating punishments for every drug test that turns up positive. The league, however, treats cannabis use more leniently than other drugs.
It is relatively easy for athletes to get around the recreational drug-testing policy of the NFL. So it is possible that Bennett may be lowballing his estimate.
The Post also noted that it is relatively easy for the athletes to get around NFL’s recreational drug-testing policy. Thus, it is possible that Bennett may be lowballing his estimate. Those players who have no record for testing positive for drugs are tested only once a year, which, according to league rules, take place any time between April and August, after the players report for training camp.
This means that as soon as a player passes his only test for the year, he will not be tested again until a year after. In fact, some would call this testing system as an ‘intelligence test,’ because a player would know it is coming and if he is smart enough, he would know when and how to dodge a bullet. It is also common knowledge that some players throw ‘smoking parties’ once they have complied with their testing.