Medical marijuana is one of eight banned drugs on the NFL's list of substances of abuse. Pictured: Former NFL player Eugene Monroe. (Dave Martin, The Associated Press)

Majority of NFL players say medical marijuana would reduce painkiller use, survey shows

A majority of NFL players feel that use of chemical painkillers would be reduced if the league allowed a therapeutic use exemption for marijuana use.

Although marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in 25 states, and four others allow recreational use, it is one of eight banned drugs on the NFL’s list of substances of abuse. Positive tests for marijuana results in a violation of the league’s policy, and triggers disciplinary action that includes fines and suspensions.

“It’s legal where I live but not where I work,” one player said.

ESPN The Magazine surveyed 226 of the league’s nearly 3,000 players on active rosters or practice squads and found 61 percent in agreement that players would take fewer injections of strong anti-inflammatory drugs such as Toradol if they could treat pain legally with marijuana. Of the respondents, 64 percent said they had taken an injection of Toradol or another painkiller, many of which can have strong side effects including intestinal bleeding when administered over a long period of time.

Nearly 60 percent of players were worried about long-term effects of chemical painkillers and 42 percent responded that they believed they have had a teammate become addicted to them.

An even greater majority of players – 71 percent – said they believe marijuana use should be legal. Five states including California will vote on legalization measures Nov. 8, with four additional states deciding whether to allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes.

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