When it comes to professional sports, there are many athletes that choose to use marijuana. Most use the drug during the offseason, however, that’s not always the best decision. The National Football League (NFL) tests players that have never had a violation one time anywhere from April 20 (Yes, 4/20) to Aug. 9. That range of dates is the prime time of the offseason, which is understandable why they would test during that time.
In the NFL, a failed drug test usually results in a few game suspension as well as a fine. The suspension would hurt for a professional athlete, but the fine would be the least of their worries. Most make an incredible amount of money to where these fines are not an issue. If the NFL really wants athletes to stay off the dope, they should enforce larger suspensions instead of low fines to back up a small suspension.
Why professional sports organizations care so much about athletes using marijuana is beyond me. I think players should be able to live their lives how they choose. They’re people just like you and me. They eat. They have social lives. They make mistakes. I realize that because they are athletes they are supposed to “set an example” for the youth and whatever. However, it shouldn’t get in the way of their personal lives.
Obviously, performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) should be tested for, but marijuana doesn’t affect a player’s performance. It’s not going to make them a better player, but there’s also no proof of it worsening their play. A perfect example is Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell was suspended for four games (but reduced to two, so this issue is on the decline) for marijuana possession at the beginning of the 2015 NFL season. He was suspended the following year as well for missing a random drug test in December 2015. Despite all this, he still managed to make the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017. Not to mention he was on the All-Pro First Team for the 2017 season as well.
Let’s transition to the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBA is way less strict than the NFL when it comes to weed policies. A player in the NBA has to have three violations before any type of suspension can occur. The first offense requires them to enter the “Marijuana Program,” while a second offense is a $25,000 fine. Given the average salary for an NBA player is $6 million, I doubt they would care, much like the NFL players. Even a third offense is only a five-game suspension. Considering there are 82 games in an NBA season, that doesn’t really affect a player too much. They are missing roughly 6 percent of the season with that suspension. If an NFL player has to serve a four-game suspension (not uncommon), he will miss 25 percent of the season since there are only 16 games. Think about that.
Although the NBA is way less strict than the NFL, I still don’t think professional sports organizations should drug test for marijuana. If a player chooses to use marijuana, that’s their choice. They are smart enough to know the potential consequences that can come with it. They know how the use of drugs affects their game and performance. At the end of the day, that’s way more of a consequence than some pointless suspension or fine.
Even the players think marijuana being on the banned substance list is ridiculous. Former NBA player Stephen Jackson was asked by TMZ if the NBA should remove marijuana from the banned substance list. Jackson replied, “I smoked my whole career, had a hell of a career. Didn’t miss no games.” A hell of a career he had, averaging over 15 points a game in his career along with a championship ring. Not bad for a second-round pick who smoked throughout his career.
Until marijuana proves to negatively affect a professional sports organization, there should not be testing for marijuana. Obviously drugs should be tested for, which can easily affect a player’s performance and work ethic. Good thing marijuana’s a plant.