Just because recreational marijuana is now legal in Colorado and Washington - thanks to voters approving constitutional amendments in those states Tuesday - doesn't mean NFL players can smoke it.
The drug is still illegal under the NFL's substance abuse policy, a message the league took steps to reinforce on Wednesday morning. "The NFL's policy is collectively bargained and will continue to apply in the same manner it has for decades," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today. "Marijuana remains prohibited under the NFL substance abuse program. The Colorado and Washington laws will have no impact on the operation of the policy." Players could be suspended for up to four games for failed drug tests.
Washington's new amendment will allow individuals 21 years or older to buy as much as one ounce of marijuana from a licensed retailer. Colorado's measure also allows for possession of one ounce, plus permits people to grow as many as six plants in private, secure areas.
Additionally, the votes in those states will force the NCAA to revisit its stance on marijuana use by student-athletes. Evan Williams, writing on the college basketball website Busting Brackets this morning, offered his own prediction:
The current rules in place specifically ban the use of marijuana by athletes under its jurisdiction. Those busted for failed drug tests administered by the NCAA are subject to a one-year suspension and subsequent loss of eligibility for that year.
The NCAA crafted those policies, however, at a time when the recreational use of marijuana was illegal in all 50 states. Now that two of those states have flipped on the issue, a universal rule no longer seems applicable.
Can the NCAA still discipline a player for something that's now legal in the state wherein he plays? That question sits atop the NCAA's agenda as the governing body returns to the drawing board to discuss possible new, legislative measures. â¦ Whether the NCAA modifies its rules governing drug use to account for the changes in state law remains unclear.
Don't count on it, though.