Should the NFL legalize cannabis?

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Darren Waller, Randy Gregory, Ricky Williams, Josh Gordon and Martavis Bryant all have been suspended for at least one full season for failed cannabis tests. Cannabis has ruined some of their careers and they aren’t the only ones that it has ruined.

One of the main psychoactive ingredients of cannabis, THC, stimulates the part of the brain that is responsible for pleasure. THC causes a release of dopamine, a chemical that gives you a feeling of relaxation.

It is estimated that 50 to 90 percent of NFL players still use cannabis despite NFL drug testing and substance abuse rules. It is mainly for pain management, but some players use it for performance enhancement. Additionally, it is used to improve oxygenation and decrease anxiety ahead of competitions.

Calvin Johnson Jr., a Detroit Lions wide receiver and first-ballot Hall of Famer, is starting a new business plan post-football. Johnson, or as fans call him, Megatron, has a business degree from Georgia Tech and works with Primitiv, a Michigan-based cannabis research company. Johnson wants to be an advocate for current players of the league and encourage the NFL to relax the rules around cannabis use.

Josh Gordon, a wide receiver and former Pro Bowler, had his career cut short many times due to positive cannabis tests. Gordon was suspended during his sophomore year at Baylor University after being charged with a misdemeanor cannabis possession charge. He failed a cannabis test ahead of his junior year of college and was forced to transfer. And since being in the NFL, he has been suspended five times by the NFL.

One player that spoke out about cannabis use was former Super Bowl champion Chris Long. He admitted to using cannabis on multiple occasions during his 11-season career. He is now fighting for the legalization of cannabis in the NFL. “I think from a standpoint of what’s safer for people and the players, certainly people in the spotlight, it [cannabis] is far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco,” Long said on The Dan Patrick Show.

Cannabis can  come with side effects. Some physical effects might include breathing problems, increased heart rate and intense nausea and vomiting. It can also come with some mental effects as well, for example temporary hallucinations and paranoia, depression, anxiety, etc. For professional athletes, smoking cannabis may give them pain relief, but if inhaled more frequently than not, it can cause their blood pressure levels to rise, increase their heart rates, and hamper their ability to exercise.

The NFL should stop conducting cannabis tests. They should let players use cannabis for recovery and recreational use because it is healthier and better for them than opioids or other dangerous painkillers.

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