Why NFL Owners Won't End Marijuana Testing Even Though They Don't Want It Anymore

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One other fascinating item about the NFL’s recent owners-only meeting that Mike Florio detailed last weekend over at Pro Football Talk: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones—who seems to have more pull than anyone in the NFL these days—wants the league to be more chill about testing players for marijuana. But even if the owners don’t want weed testing, they can still use it as a cudgel to get something they do want.

Here’s Florio (emphasis mine):

Jones, per a source who heard the comments, wants the league to drop its prohibition on marijuana use. Jones was reminded that the issue falls under the umbrella of collective bargaining, which would require the players to make one or more concessions in exchange for significant changes to the marijuana prohibition.


Florio also reports that the league office made it clear that, in Florio’s words, “the league is willing to listen to the medical community about any potential changes to the rules regarding marijuana.”

The NFL has the strictest testing policy for marijuana in professional sports, even after the NFLPA and the league agreed three years ago to raise the threshold for what constitutes a positive test. The union, meanwhile, has publicly indicated its willingness to do little more than study the issue for the time being.


So: At a time when teams are being smacked from all directions by lawsuits from former players alleging those teams distributed addictive pain killers like they were Milk Duds, management doesn’t seem too concerned with all the knock-on effects of banning weed. But rather than make a show of magnanimity or common sense, the owners still intend to treat marijuana as just another bargaining chip. This news is at once deeply cynical and wholly unsurprising.