NFL free agent Mike James was once dependent on prescription painkillers. It was an addiction that the running back picked up after breaking his ankle in 2013, when he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. James was able to kick the habit and use a safer alternative: marijuana.
Unfortunately, the NFL doesn’t see it that way.
Last month the NFL denied James’ request for an exemption to use a banned substance for a legitimate medical reason. So, James, who last played on the Detroit Lions’ practice squad in 2017, can’t use weed to manage the everyday aches of playing football. But, he could use painkillers and powerful opioids that he was once addicted to.
Speaking to the NJ.com, Mike James said:
I am hopeful that I’ll be able to keep playing football…It is a game that I love very dearly. I know right now I’m doing something that makes some people uncomfortable, and that I’m going against the establishment to push for a change in the way they look at this medicine. I know there’s a greater purpose here for a lot of guys in this league who I consider family members.
Marijuana is currently banned from the NFL (even though testing for the drug isn’t very stringent.) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t seem like he’s willing to unban the substance anytime soon.
Last year Goodell went on ESPN radio and said:
We’ve been studying that through our advisers…To date, they haven’t said, “This is a change we think you should make that is in the best interest of the health and safety of our players.” If they do, we’re certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven’t really said that.
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