We recently polled 1,355 self-described NFL fans from around the United States for their opinions on current players using marijuana. Below you will find the results from this survey, which asked the following questions:

Do you think the NFL should allow current players to use marijuana? 
Yes 66%
No 25%
Not sure 9%

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Do you think the NFL should allow current players to use marijuana when prescribed by a doctor for pain management?
Yes 82%
No 10%
Not sure 8%

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Being in our 30s and 40s here at SportFacts, we remember the D.A.R.E. officers in front of our elementary school classrooms, pitching the dangers of marijuana use. The gateway drug to a world of deadly and dangerous substance addictions, we were told. We of course remember the “Just Say No” campaign as well.

But over the last decade especially, and as we’re a company based in Seattle, we have seen firsthand the attitude towards marijuana use shift drastically. Suddenly, the preaching of marijuana as dangerous has faded. Even our city’s mayor is working to reverse hundreds of marijuana convictions in our city. This appears to also be a national trend, the legalization, or at least the decriminalization of the plant.

For many, marijuana is a natural answer when it comes to pain management. Instead of prescribed painkillers, ones that have proven to be deadly and far more addictive, people are turning towards marijuana to help manage their chronic pains, including many former professional athletes.

But what about the current players, especially in the NFL, one of the most physically demanding sports?

Currently, the NFL doesn’t appear to have a plan in place when it comes to alternative pain management. There are plenty of former players who talk about how opioids were handed out like candy

But why is there such resistance from the league?

Most likely, the full-stop reason is that the drug is still federally illegal. The NFL doesn’t want to be in a fight with US attorneys by taking a public stance in favor of marijuana use for players. But there are backdoor ways around this. For example, turning a blind eye towards the drug’s use, making the testing less rigorous, or limiting the punishments to small fines when caught. Despite teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos playing in states where marijuana is legal, federal rules are still in play.

But second, and probably more than the above, it seems likely that the NFL is worried about the public perception of marijuana use among their current players. The league offices have rarely been able to take a stance one direction or another on any variety of issues without seeing massive backlash.

This simply seems like an issue of the NFL kicking the can further down the road. They’ll deal with it later. But in the meantime, the players are more than welcome to take opioids for their pain, no problem there. For those caught wit pot, a suspension is likely, meaning they’ll be watching NFL RedZone from home.

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