Marijuana represents one of the key issues the NFL is targeting to entice the players to agree to a 17-game schedule, and with the CBA talks at a critical point, more details regarding the league’s plan to loosen marijuana restrictions have emerged.
The NFL’s latest CBA proposal would dramatically reduce the marijuana testing window from nearly four months to two weeks, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. This would apply to all players who are not already in the league’s substance-abuse program, which requires more frequent tests. The current testing window runs from late April to August.
It is not known when the two-week window would open and close, but slashing it down to two weeks would represent a significant change. The league in 2014 already raised the threshold for what it takes to be suspended for marijuana, and weed-based bans would be far less frequent considering the limited time players would have to test positive for the substance. And even if a player would test positive under these guidelines, suspensions would only occur in “extreme” cases, Florio adds.
Jerry Jones said in December he expects more leniency on the marijuana front, and the league last year commissioned a study that included the examination of weed as a pain-management tool. Recreational marijuana use is legal in 11 states; medical marijuana is permitted in 33. Seven teams — the Cowboys, Texans, Panthers, Titans, Falcons, Colts and Packers — play in states in which neither type of usage is legal, however.
Barely a month remains before the 2020 league year, the 17-game schedule poses as the top sticking point for the players. And the March election of a new NFLPA president is almost certainly prompting owners to push for the CBA’s finalization before that changeover. While an NFLPA vote is coming next week, the prospect of the extra game — likely without an extra bye — could force the players’ side to dig in for the long haul.