It's Time to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Professional Sports

Andrew Sullivan points to this ESPN comment regarding NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin:

Harvin was a controversial draft pick after he tested positive for marijuana use at the February scouting combine. But as it turned out, the biggest problem he encountered was an intensification of migraine headaches that has plagued him for much of his life.

Oh, I think I know what's going on here. First, Harvin gets in trouble for testing positive for marijuana. Now he's passing drug tests, but suffering from constant debilitating migraines. Sounds like the NFL has simply prohibited him from using the one medicine that effectively treats his condition.

The thing about marijuana and migraines is that it doesn't just relieve symptoms, it often stops the headaches from ever happening in the first place. I've spoken with many migraine sufferers who've found that even modest use of marijuana simply makes the problem go away. I discovered this for myself in my late teens and it changed my life. I used to wake up everyday wondering if by mid-afternoon, I'd be huddled in a dark room, half-blind, violently nauseous and knowing I'd be unable to function again for 12 hours. It was horrible, but it ended quite abruptly one summer, and it was only later that I came to understand why.

So I can't even begin to describe my frustration at watching a world-class athlete's career jeopardized by the NFL's ridiculous prohibition against marijuana. Banning recreational use is silly, but this is an outrage. If you don't want publicity surrounding marijuana use in professional sports, then stop testing the athletes for marijuana. If that's too much to ask, then at least create an exemption for cases in which a doctor recommends medical use. Believe me, this would generate next to no controversy, although substantial coverage ranging from neutral to positive would be almost guaranteed.

If the President of the United States can embrace a more reasonable medical marijuana policy, there's no reason the NFL can’t do the same.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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THe NFL is about sending (Stupid) messages

William Aiken

I can just see these sanctimonious sportcasters now, bellowing that an exemption for medical marijuana would send the wrong message to kids regardless of the sense and benefits such a policy would inspire. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodel is all about image as well. Any policy that could potentially damage the NFL's gravy train, he would staunchly oppose. NFL fans for the most part don't want their stars involved with controvercial issues. And while this particular case with Harvin, appears to be a no-brainer, the sports media would zero in on that controversy and conflate this story with other recent off-the-field personel problems the Minnesota Vikings have had to deal with, which are totally unrelated to Harvin's health issues.

If Harvin were to seek medical marijuana through a physician's care, would the scrutiny he would have to endure be worth the fight? What about the fickle corporate sponsors? The world of sports journalism, particularly the TV and Radio commentators have some of the most idiotic and pro-drug war opinions. Just look how most of them scolded Micheal Phelps for hitting on a bong. While these commentators will admit to their own drug "experimentation" in college, they certainly mock any athlete caught with drugs as being stupid, no matter how small the amount.

In fact, drug use is frown upon more heavily than an athlete getting a DUI. I would love to see Percy Harvin challenge the status quo, however with the cautious and conservative nature of NFL advisers, handlers and lawyers, unfortunately it's quite likely he will have to continue suffering through his migraine headaches without the healing effects of Marijuana.

"drug use being frowned on more than a DUI"

Surely drunk driving IS drug use. Good post, but I have to make that point. Raising awareness that alcohol is a drug is part of normalizing the status of cannabis. The phrase 'alcohol and drugs' is worse than meaningless, it has the absurd implication that alcohol is not a drug. The phrase is used only as a courtesy to alcohol users who don't want what they do connected in any way with what illegal drug/herb users do. But as a matter of science and public health there's utterly no question that alcohol is a drug. Like weed, most adults who use it use it responsibly, but the damage done to innocent people by those who abuse alcohol is devastating, the damage done by cannabis abusers is just not in the same league. And much of the harm blamed on cannabis use is actually caused by the bogus prohibition of cannabis.

Listen to the patient?

My God man! Why should doctors listen to the patients? It is not "standard of care" any more. All the doctor has to do is look at the chart and the tests and make his mind up how to treat the person setting in front of him!? What the patient says is of little relevance, anyway. (;-P

Why not do something simple, like ask the patient if anything helps?

I think that big pharma and alcohol would be the losers if cannabis was legalized. And they can't have that! The ethics of the situation is clearly questionable! But, to hell with ethics and common sense. The bottom line is what matters to those two groups!

Come on, already........... Fix it!!

Roger Goodell...

is to the NFL as John Walters is to the ONDCP.

The most hardcore of the hardcore. Don't expect any leniency from Goodell on any issue. If the guy will fine you for celebrating a touchdown too much, there's no way he'll okay any kind of drug use that isn't okayed by our pathetic government.

This came to mind immediately

When I learned of Harvin's migraines, instantly I said, "No wonder he used pot!"
In the wink-wink culture of professional sports where we KNOW that players are putting all kinds of questionable things in their bodies, the safest is yet again banned.

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