NFL

Is weed legal in NFL? Can players smoke?

The NFL's new Collective Bargaining Agreement was installed in March. One of the new regulations agreed upon was lighter restrictions concerning marijuana.

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Is weed legal in NFL? Can players smoke?
TOM PENNINGTON AFP

States across the US are beginning loosen restrictions on marijuana, and many are doing away with restrictions as a whole. While laws at a state and federal level may be lightening many professional sports leagues continue to test and punish those who occasionally “light up.”

New CBA lightens up weed restrictions

The NFL continues to test players for marijuana during the season, but policy across the league has changed under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Following in the footsteps of the rest of the country, Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA agreed to lift the harsh regulations that prohibited the use of marijuana.

Under the new CBA deal players will not be tested for THC-carboxylic acid, which is the chemical found in marijuana, from April 20th to August 9th. The timing could not be better for those who like to roll a joint or two considering April 20th (4/20) is an internationally recognized stoner holiday.

Player testing begins at the start of training camp

The agreement, voted on in March of last year, still states that players will be subject to testing once training camps start in late July. But the NFL has changed the threshold that would produce a positive test from 35 nanograms to 150 and players will not be hit with suspensions if they do test positive.

Instead those who give a test that registers more that 150 nanograms of THC will be penalized with a fine of up to three game checks.

The NFL wanted to move away from the harsh punishments of the previous CBA and concentrate more on treatment for those who are caught using marijuana during times where it is off limits. The tests will be evaluated by a board of medical professionals, and it will then be determined if treatment is necessary.

Old CBA had much harsher punishments

Players used to be tested at least once during the offseason before the new CBA was agreed upon. During the season 10 players a week would be selected from each team to give a sample.

Previously, the first failed test would bring about a referral to the NFL’s substance abuse program, the next positive test would result in a fine of two game checks, a third positive test came with fine of four game checks. Once a player fails a fourth time suspensions started to come into the picture. A fourth violation would have a four-game suspension tied to it, a fifth violation resulted in a 10 game ban, and a sixth violation would produce a year long ban.

Gordon and others could benefit from new CBA

The new deal makes it almost impossible for year long bans to be handed out for repeated marijuana use. This is good news for players like Josh Gordon, who has been suspended for seasons at a time for repeated marijuana use. Gordon was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs after their Week 3 loss to the LA Chargers.

The lightened marijuana rules in the league have were one of the biggest issues the NFLPA was pushing for during negotiations. It is said to have been the trade for the league extending the regular season to 18 weeks. The new CBA will be in effect the end of the 2030 season.