Roger Goodell spoke about weed on Mike & Mike on Friday, and surprise: He’s against its use. The NFL commissioner said he didn’t want marijuana usage to be “something that we’ll be held accountable for some years down the road.” According to Goodell, the NFL’s medical advisors “haven’t really said” that allowing medical cannabis use is something the league should consider.
Former Eagles offensive lineman Todd Herremans had something to say about that.
“You would hope that the NFL would not just deny the findings we’ve had with cannabis,” Herremans told Deadspin in an interview Friday. “I’m sure as commissioner he’s probably has a lot on his plate—and the cannabis thing, as of late, has been very prominent. And it’s probably a thorn in his side and probably aggravates him to where he just says ‘You know, right now I don’t see a place for it.’ But if you’re the commissioner you can’t get aggravated by certain topics; you have to look at them all equally, you know.”
The former football player attended a reception for the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Jefferson University in Philadelphia. The center held its first-ever meeting of its entrepreneurship/social impact and scientific boards on Friday.
Herremans, who played 11 years in the NFL, has become a bit of an advocate for medical marijuana since retirement. He has said he began smoking pot in college recreationally, then stopped when he failed a drug test his second season in the NFL. Herremans said he then realized how much his marijuana usage had helped him deal with the regular aches and pains an NFL lineman gets.
“We have a viable, natural alternative to a huge problem that we have in the NFL right now with the abuse of opiates,” Herremans said, “and the easy way from the top to deal with at least a portion of that problem is not even promoting cannabis—just don’t penalize people for [using] it.”
“In terms of injuries and issues that affect current and former professional athletes which generally have to do with chronic pain, with concussion, with chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” Lambert Center director Charles Pollack said. “These are issues in which there is intense interest, but we have precious little data. So it’s really hard to make any sort of generalization either positive or negative. And we’re very much in favor of doing the studies but over the next few years can establish a role for cannabis in these injuries and illnesses or maybe say that it doesn’t help at all.”
The biggest problem regarding medical marijuana research is not with the NFL, but the federal government. Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug under U.S. laws, and any studies have to go through several layers of approval from the federal government. Pollack said the Lambert Center is currently in talks with the FDA and DEA, and hopes to announce new studies into medicinal cannabis later in the year.
Herremans, who recently spoke on a panel at the World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo along with former NFL vets Marvin Washington, Eben Britton, and Nate Jackson, hopes the NFL will make a chance in the next collective bargaining agreement.
“You know, we just got to continue to educate and just hopefully it spreads like wildfire and changes the opinions of people like Mr. Goodell,” Herremans said. “He has doctors that are telling him it’s not medically medically viable alternative right now. And we have doctors that tell you that it is a very safe, very healthy alternative to what they’re getting right now.
“I’d love to have our doctors meet his doctors so that they can work together, because I think all we really want is a better product for the NFL. And sure you have healthier athletes and healthier alumni from the sport. You’re going to have a better product.”