Marijuana: An allowed habit in some sports


Alyssa McKenna, Sports Writer

Along with the new year, there is a new league. The XFL is a brand new, fan-first football league. This new league reimagines the game and gives fans an opportunity to experience more action, access and fun, according to the XFL website. 

The XFL is different than any league sports fans, especially football fans, have seen before. The season lasts just 79 days and started on Feb. 8.  There are eight teams who will play a 10-week regular season and a two-week postseason consisting of two semifinal playoff games and a championship game on April 26. 

The rules are different as well: Gameplay wise and outside of the arena. 

The major difference is the use of marijuana in the XFL. The league leaves the choice to players to manage their own pain with cannabis use or even if they want to use it recreationally.  

The NFL breaks down substance abuse into two categories. The first is performance-enhancing drugs. The second is substances of abuse, which is where marijuana is categorized. Like Major League Baseball, the XFL allows the use of cannabis. 

The use of marijuana for sports is a viable reason to cope with pain. This reduces the risk of becoming addicted to painkillers for various injuries, and even the possibility of furthering their addiction to other substances. This raises a lot of discussion about whether or not cannabis should be regulated in other leagues, as well as in college. 

Junior Derek Lyman said he agrees with other leagues regulating marijuana use. 

“It should be due to the overprescribing of painkillers in sports primarily contact sports like the NFL, and the use is very prevalent among athletes in multiple of the associations,” Lyman said.

The use of medical cannabis is legalized in 33 states and the use of recreational cannabis is legalized in 11 states, along with 15 states in the U.S. in which cannabis is decriminalized.  The continuation of the legalization is only becoming more prominent on Capitol Hill with the legislation of full legalization being pushed. 

The effects of addiction to painkillers and opiates is a rising national issue. More people are increasingly becoming addicted, and for athletes, this starts after an injury where they have prescribed painkillers to cope with the pain from their injury.

To put it in perspective, drug overdoses killed approximately 71,000 Americans in 2017 and an estimated 2.1 million Americans had opioid-use disorders in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia looked at opioid usage among those who began using marijuana. In states with medical marijuana dispensaries, there was a 14% reduction in opioid use over five years. Another study that was conducted showed that in 13 states where medical marijuana was legalized between 1999-2010, there was a 25% decrease in the number of deaths attributed to opioid overdose.

With the MLB and the XFL modeling the legalization of cannabis in their leagues, they can pose as the models for other leagues to potentially allow the use of cannabis.