A.J. Perez, USA TODAY Sports Published 7:13 p.m. ET April 11, 2018
Estimates on the percentage of NFL players who use marijuana have been made, but recently retired tight end Martellus Bennett pinned the number pretty high.
“I want to say about 89%,” Bennett said on a Bleacher Report podcast hosted by Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe.
Asked if it’s shocking when he finds out a teammate doesn’t smoke weed, Bennett responded, “You don’t smoke, bro?”
Bennett explained NFL players use it for reasons other than getting high, reasons which have been behind the push by many to allow the use of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioid painkillers and other prescription drugs.
“There are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad,” Bennett said. “You don’t want to be popping pills all the time. There are anti-inflammatory drugs you take so long that they start to eat at your liver, kidneys and things like that. A human made that. God made weed.”
How many players in the NFL smoke weed? Over/Under: 70%
Martellus Bennett says WAY OVER pic.twitter.com/Nf8041rvNZ
— Simms & Lefkoe (@SimmsAndLefkoe) April 11, 2018
Medical marijuana already is legal in many jurisdictions where NFL teams are based and an increasing number of states allow the recreational use of weed, including California and Colorado.
Still, marijuana remains on the NFL’s banned list, although it takes two positive tests for the drug before a suspension is issued. After an initial positive test, a player is put in the NFL’s “Stage Two” intervention program, which means for a span of up to 24 months the player faces more frequent testing.
There’s also a shorter window in which players can be tested for marijuana and other drugs of abuse: April through August. Once a player passes that test, he won’t be tested again for another year.
Beyond pain management, those advocating for marijuana’s use in the NFL point to research into the possibility the drug can be used to combat chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
A 2013 study at a Portuguese university found cannabis helped regenerate brain cells in mice, a 2012 Israeli university study showed low doses of cannabis can aid in the recovery from brain injuries and a 2005 Canadian university study showed cannabis could be used as an anti-anxiety treatment.
“To date, they haven’t said this is a change we think you should make that’s in the best interests of the health and safety of our players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last year. “If they do, we’re certainly going to consider that.”
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