With the NFL Draft in full swing for 2021, the league’s popularity is at an all-time high. Hundreds of young athletes will begin their NFL careers during the draught, which begins on Thursday, April 29th, 2021 and ends on Saturday, May 1st, 2021. These athletes, fresh out of college, will enter the NFL in the hopes of having successful athletic and financial careers. Though injuries and a lack of ability are the most common hurdles to success in the NFL, there is another factor that has wrecked a number of pro-football careers. The NFL’s drug policy has long been known for being stringent, with a number of players testing positive each season. Marijuana, primarily THC, is one of the most prevalent positive tests in the NFL. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the NFL’s marijuana testing policy will be dramatically revised in order to give its players more freedom.

The NFL’s Outdated Marijuana Policy Is Causing Problems

The NFL’s marijuana policy has long generated more issues than it has addressed for its players. Ricky Williams, the famous running back, is one of the most apparent stories that springs to mind. Williams, a former Heisman Trophy winner who was selected fifth overall in the NFL draught, had his career cut short many times due to adverse THC testing. Williams chose to retire and study holistic medicine rather than pay a six-figure fine and serve a four-game suspension after his first positive test.

Though he was able to return to football, Williams was subjected to numerous further marijuana-related sanctions and was scapegoated throughout his career for his mostly therapeutic marijuana use. Williams would very certainly be in the Hall of Fame if not for marijuana-related career setbacks. His narrative is a perfect example of the harm caused by an erroneous and outdated perception about marijuana. Williams is now a proponent of medical marijuana and has even created his own business.

NFL Marijuana Policies Have Been Revised

Though the NFL’s drug standards have been exceedingly severe for years, the modifications introduced this year are a breath of fresh air. The in-season THC test threshold was previously set at 35 nanograms, but it will now be upped to 150 nanograms. Positive test penalties were once severe, ranging from a punishment of two game checks to a one-year suspension from the league. Instead of immediately imposing penalties, the league will now assess if treatment is required based on a player’s THC level. This player-centered strategy is the appropriate way to go, and NFL players will most certainly appreciate it.

The league’s random drug testing period usually starts on April 20th (no, it’s not a joke) and lasts until August 9th, when training camp begins. During this time, the NFL conducts drug testing on players for everything from cocaine to performance-enhancing substances. THC will no longer be tested for during this offseason time, which is one of the most significant modifications to the NFL’s marijuana testing policy.

The adjustments to the NFL’s marijuana testing policy will almost certainly be welcomed by the majority of the league’s players and team employees. The policies should no longer be aimed at preventing and punishing players who use marijuana. Instead, they will not lead to the demonization of players who use marijuana to cure the numerous injuries incurred as a result of spending the majority of their lives playing a violent game.