Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for the 2014 season because of a positive test for marijuana. He is a repeat offender of the NFL's substance abuse policy. (Rick Osentoski, Associated Press file)

NFL players union approves new drug policy with looser marijuana testing

The NFL Players Association representatives late Friday unanimously approved the terms of a new drug policy that includes the implementation of testing for Human Growth Hormone and an increase in the threshold for testing positive for marijuana.

The decision sets up the possibility that Denver Broncos slot receiver Wes Welker will return to the field as soon as Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Welker will not be cleared to play until the NFL signs off on the agreement, too, which is expected on Saturday. reported that another player suspended for violating the drug policy, Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon, will have his suspension reduced from a season-long ban to 10 games once the new drug policy is formally approved.

“This is a historic moment for our players and our league,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said in a statement. “We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide our players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game.”

Among the other highlights, according to a statement from the NFLPA:

  • Amending Marijuana Policies: The threshold for a positive test for marijuana will increase to 35 ng/ml from the previous limit of 15 ng/ml. There will be additional steps for players who test positive for the substance before suspension.
  • Neutral arbitration: An independent arbitrator will hear appeals for positive test violations for both substances of abuse and performance enhancing drugs. Both the NFL and NFLPA will select, approve and pay for three to five arbitrators.

Read more of this report at First and Orange