Nard in the Paint: Let Them Smoke Weed

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reaffirmed the league’s anti-marijuana stance this weekend, and while the no-fun-league again proves it deserves its moniker, it’s also a bad sign for college athletes who use or want to use marijuana for its many therapeutic and recreational benefits.

If the NFL is showing no signs of cracking, it’s hard to imagine the NCAA, an equally haughty and bloated institution, will take the high road on this matter either.

Of course, if these leagues used their drug testing system to catch actual, harmful drugs like cocaine, opiates or steroids, I would be inclined to support that.  Some pros use steroids to gain an advantage, and those side effects can be harmful, especially on the body of a high school or college kid who does it to emulate one of his athletic heroes.

But to lump weed in with that group of substances?  It’s just asinine at this point.  The country and the general public seem to be moving one way on the issue as sports are content to rely on archaic information and sensibilities.

Goodell went full Reefer Madness on Friday, citing the “harmful” effects marijuana can cause and its addictive nature —  probably while plugging Bud Light, official beer of the NFL, mid-argument.

At least Goodell has a discernable angle.  If the weed stance is softened, it will threaten the plan in place of buddying up with Big Pharma and pumping players with ungodly amounts of painkillers.  Many ex-NFLers have gone on record preferring the safety, reliability and effectiveness of using marijuana to control pain and to relax, rather than the truly addictive opioids that many have to continue using after they retire.

Now, I’m not sure why the NCAA hates weed, but it’s obvious that they feel the same way and throw weed into the same category of other fatally dangerous drugs.

A UCI athlete is subject to year-round drug testing by the school as well as the NCAA.  The sanction for a first failed test for a street drug, which includes marijuana, is half of a withheld season.  A second failed test is the loss of a year of eligibility.  Whoa, bro.  We’re talking about something that has been legalized for recreational use in eight states and counting.  The NFL and the NCAA continue to hide behind federal law, as even athletes in those states are subject to penalty despite it being legal where they live.

I would like to point out that I am not some stoner college kid who thinks weed is magical; I know it is a substance, like booze, that can lead to abuse.  More so in the way of booze I might add, which is legal in case you forgot.

There is obviously a line between pain management and high as a kite all the time.  If the NCAA or the member schools must drug test, they can do so to prevent abuse.

The way that they test for weed in urine is to determine the level of cannabis concentration, and see if it is above or below the legal threshold.  If it is above, it’s a positive, below, negative.  The legal threshold is currently a microscopic level, but if the threshold was bumped up it could then serve as a line of safe consumption of cannabis.  That way if you are over that  threshold, you probably should lay off the grass.

That’s a stopgap solution until the NCAA realizes drug testing is worth more monetarily than any good it could possibly do.  Drug tests are expensive, six-million-dollars-a-year expensive.

Here’s a thought, whenever an (unpaid) college athlete is about to be given a drug test, just give him or her the money that it’s worth.  Two birds, one stone.