The National Football League is taking small, but progressive steps towards becoming a more accepting league. Late last month the league decided to revise a few of their policies, including their cannabis policy. As a result, players will begin to have the opportunity to medicate with cannabis in small doses.
New Cannabis Policies
This agreement came from the National Football League Player’s Association. Their intention with these changes is to improve the health and benefits of both current and former NFL players.
“Following more than ten months of intensive and thorough negotiations, the NFL Players and clubs have jointly developed a comprehensive set of new and revised terms that will transform the future of the game, provide for players — past, present, and future — both on and off the field, and ensure that the NFL’s second century is even better and more exciting for the fans,” the statement reads.
Many policy changes revolve around cannabis. First, NFL players will no longer be suspended for testing positive for cannabis. That’s not to say NFL players will be allowed to smoke cannabis as they want. Instead, the minimum testing threshold for cannabis will be raised from 35 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL. In other words, players will be able to consume 4x the amount of cannabis before receiving any punishment.
Players will also have a much smaller window to be tested for cannabis during. Normally, the league allows for drug-tests to be administered randomly during training camp for four months. Starting next season, the league will only allow for testing to commence within a two-week window.
Non-Cannabis Related Policy Changes
Cannabis isn’t the only thing the NFL is working on to improve. The NFL Player’s Association took this opportunity to adjust some of the other areas lacking in the league. One of the bigger policies being changed is the minimum salary for NFL players. Here are a few highlights from the proposal regarding wages.
- $100,000 increase in 2020 for rookie contracts, with another $50,000 increase in 2021, and $45K increase every year after.
- At least $90,000 increase in 2020 for salaries players, with another $80,000-$105,000 increase in 2021, and $45K increase every year after.
- Increase in minimum salary benefits
- Increase in pay for offseason activities
Another section of the agreement focuses on improving hours and working conditions. These policy changes mainly revolve around the length of workouts and the quality of facilities. For example, teams must limit full-speed, padded practices to 16 days with a limit on the number of consecutive days in pads. Teams must also provide players with two days off in the first week of practice, and at least one day off every week after.
Finally, the NFL is making changes to its benefits, for both active and former players. Active players will receive a 10% increase in pension, tuition reimbursement, and life insurance. Former players will retroactively increase pay to $550 a month for all pre-2012 vested players. Former players will also have their pension eligibility expanded through this new policy. Finally, former players will have access to a network of hospitals across the country that will treat them for free.
After years of advocacy, the NFL has finally decided to take steps towards improving the league with an agreement from the NFLPA. This won’t allow NFL players to consume cannabis regularly, but in terms of treatment and rehabilitation, this is something the players should appreciate.
The MLB and NHL have recently emplaced looser policies around marijuana as well. With the NFL illustrating their open-mindedness, this will hopefully influence other leagues around the world to consider revising their marijuana policies, most notably the NBA. Overall, the NFL has proved a little bit more than they care about their players.