New NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement Will End Marijuana Suspensions

The league's new drug policy looks to focus on treatment over punishment

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A view of the NFL logo before the 2020 AFC Championship game.
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The NFL Players Association ratified the new collective bargaining agreement after a vote on Saturday resulted in a 51.5% makjority in favor of the proposal, and alongside the more widely-publicized changes, such as a 17-game regular season and expanded playoffs, the league will be making a big change in how it institutes its drug policy. As reported by ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the league will cease to suspend players for any marijuana violations.

The end of suspensions for marijuana also comes with raising the threshold for a negative drug test, from 35 nanograms of THC to 150. The NFL will also not test after the first two weeks of training camp. Graziano reports that this is part of a shift on how the league tackles its drug policy:

The idea is to focus the drug program on clinical care as opposed to punishment. Basically, if you test positive, your test gets reviewed by a board of jointly appointed medical professionals to determine whether you need any kind of treatment.

Additionally, the NFLPA’s memo about the deal says that “violations of law for marijuana possession generally will not result in suspension.”

Marijuana violations are not the only ones seeing a change under the new CBA. DUI suspensions will increase to three games, while the policy for performance-enhancing drug has been restructured. Per Graziano’s report:

A first failed test for anabolic steroids will result in a six-game suspension. And “manipulation and or substitution and use of a prohibited substance” will land players an eight-game suspension. A second violation for stimulants or diuretics results in a five-game suspension. A second violation for anabolics results in a 17-game suspension.

Though a near-majority of players voted against the CBA, these drug policy changes were much-needed alterations from the league’s previously Draconian stance against marijuana.

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