NFL Pot Policy: Getting Better, But Still Not Great


The NFL adjusted their marijuana policy earlier this year, raising the threshold of testing positive from 15 nanograms to 35 nanograms of spent THC carboxy for every milliliter of pee. While the increase no-doubt helps some athletes who prefer to use cannabis instead of pharmaceutical drugs to treat pain, the league falls far behind other sports when it comes to cannabis tolerance.
The threshold does make it easier to toke up during the off-season, but the increase of 20 nanograms doesn’t equate to a free ticket to get high all the time.

By comparison, Major League Baseball has a 50 nanogram rule and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which sets policies followed by everything from professional boxing to the Olympics has a 150 nanogram level. The idea is that marijuana isn’t performance enhancing, so why should we penalize athletes for using it – especially now that the use of cannabis is legal in two states.
As Allen St. Pierre, NORML executive director, points out to USA Today, the NFL policy just didn’t go far enough:
“We’re talking the difference between 15 parts per billion and 35 parts per billion,” he said. “From a mathematical, forensic point of view, the difference is incredibly slight. Only lawyers and arbitrators and mediators within the NFL system are ever going to appreciate it. You don’t really start to get any margins of use unless you have a threshold of 50.”
Von Miller, Denver Broncos badass linebacker, said the new policy is mostly to cover players who hang around weed smokers.
“There might be places where you can’t avoid it — a concert or at the club — and you can’t avoid what other people are doing around you,” Miller said. “You have to remove yourself from the situation.”
But here’s the thing: the drug tests are only once a year during the off-season. If a player passes the test, they have until the next off-season until they’ll be tested again – so basically, players have a free pass to use cannabis during the season.