Roger Goodell says marijuana is ‘addictive,’ league not considering legalization

1:55 | NFL
Brandon Marshall's painkiller story shows NFL has addiction battle on its hands
Friday April 28th, 2017

During an interview Friday morning on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell bristled at the idea that the league would allow players to use marijuana to manage pain. 

“I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said, as transcribed by Pro Football Talk. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And it’s not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren’t something that is something that we’ll be held accountable for some years down the road.”

In March, several former NFL players filed a lawsuit against the league alleging that teams violated federal drug laws in handing out powerful opioid painkillers to players, which can be highly addictive. Many NFL players, including Brett Favre, have said they struggled with addiction to painkillers. 

Recent research has found that medicinal marijuana can help curb opioid use in patients with chronic pain, and that patients prefer marijuana to opioids because it comes with fewer side effects. 

About 9% of marijuana users become addicted, while about 30% develop some form of dependence on the drug, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Goodell added that the league continues to consult with its medical advisors about medicinal marijuana but that they have not recommended the league allow medical use of the drug. 

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