Denver, CO-It’s just a coincidence, but the fact that both upcoming Super Bowl contenders, the Denver Broncos and the Settle Seahawks, are from states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use has not gone unnoticed. Marijuana for recreational and medical use is gaining steam and now NFL Commissioner, Roger Goddell, says he would consider allowing players to use medical marijuana if it helps treat concussions.
But would this permissive attitude to pot make the DUI matter worse for the NFL?
Speaking at the Head Health Challenge Thursday, Goddell said he would think about allowing players to use marijuana if it was an effective treatment for concussions, according to USA Today.
“I’m not a medical expert. We will obviously follow signs. We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that,” Goodell said. “Our medical experts are not saying that right now.”
On a recent episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, the host interviewed an Israeli doctor who said research on mice with head trauma showed marijuana dramatically improved their symptoms. Gumbel also presented data which showed 50 to 60 percent of NFL players regularly use marijuana primarily for pain management, according to the USA Today.
For now Goddell says the collective bargaining agreement clearly states that marijuana use for recreational purposes is against league policies, even though was legalized in Colorado and Washington State.
Of all the professional athletic leagues, players in the NFL tend to net the most arrests for driving under the influence– some players are caught with marijuana in the their possession. For instance, Aldon Smith of the 49ers’ was arrested for DUI and possession of marijuana in September and he’s not the only one.
People who are critical of the growing permissive attitude towards medical and recreational marijuana characterize the drug as a plague on the nation’s highways. They believe that making marijuana more readily available will increase marijuana-related traffic accidents and fatalities despite the fact that numerous studies show that drivers who are under the influence of alcohol engage in more risky driving habits than people under the influence of marijuana.
Does marijuana affect a person’s driving abilities? Studies say, yes, but the studies also say that stoned drivers are aware of their impairment and compensate for it and tend to take fewer risks such as speeding. A 1993 driver-simulation study of stoned drivers conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded:
“The impairment (from marijuana) manifests itself mainly in the ability to maintain a lateral position on the road, but its magnitude is not exceptional in comparison with changes produced by many medicinal drugs and alcohol. Drivers under the influence of marijuana retain insight in their performance and will compensate when they can, for example, by slowing down or increasing effort. As a consequence, THC’s adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small.”
That’s not to say stone drivers are safer drivers, but it does indicate when a driver is arrested for DUI with both alcohol and marijuana in their systems, it more likely the alcohol which is making them a dangerous driver. So there is no reason to think if the NFL does allow players to use medical marijuana, it would make league’s DUI record any worse.