NFL Star Suspended For Using Medical Marijuana To Treat Crohn’s Disease
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The NFL has come under fire for its controversial suspension of Buffalo Bills star Seantrel Henderson, who was found in violation of the league’s drug policy for using doctor-prescribed medical marijuana to treat his Crohn’s disease.
The offensive tackle was hit with a 10-game suspension for his second violation of the league’s drug policy, according to CBS Sports. Henderson was suspended for four games earlier in the season due to an identical violation and unsuccessfully appealed the ruling.
Henderson has been using medical marijuana to treat pain symptoms associated with his condition. He has undergone two intestinal surgeries as a result of his disease.
“There is zero allowable medical exemption for this per the NFL,” said Henderson’s agent, Brian Fettner, shortly after the football player’s first surgery. “However, there clearly should be.”
Several NFL players have long been calling for the league to remove its ban on medical marijuana, admitting they prefer the drug to address their chronic pain issues instead of the powerful opioid painkillers prescribed by NFL doctors.
“These guys are not going out getting high and playing football games,” said former NFL player Nate Jackson to the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s more of a recovery thing … When you get hurt in the NFL, they give you bottles. Injections. Pills. I always found marijuana was better for me. Opiate painkillers made me feel sluggish, down.”
Jackson has also contended that marijuana can help ease the effects of concussions. Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon has also echoed that suggestion and urged the NFL to conduct studies on the subject, but plenty of other medical professionals don’t share his view.
Dr. Julian Bales, a neurological consultant to the NFL Players Association since 1994, cited studies which show abnormalities in brain function and structure among long-term pot users as a reason why the league will never legalize it.
Twenty-six players were suspended for substance abuse in 2015, and the majority of those came from positive marijuana tests. But many former players have stated that the number of NFL athletes using pot far exceeds that number. Former NFL linebacker Scott Fujita estimated that 30-50% of current players smoke marijuana, while former Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson told Bleacher Report it’s at least 60% at “bare minimum.”