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This Sunday’s Super Bowl will feature teams from the two US states where marijuana is legal for recreational use. It’s the WEED BOWL, and the heady coincidence shines a spotlight on our country’s evolving attitude towards legalization, a fact that is not lost on marijuana advocates.

At the AFC championship game in Denver two Sundays ago, the Marijuana Policy Project placed abillboard reminding fans and players that there is now a safer legal alternative to alcohol, the intoxicant classically associated with football. While cannabis might not seem like a logical complement to football’s aggression and athletic intensity, the NFL is beginning to see aconnection between the two.

Recently, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell officially stated that the league is open to the idea of medical marijuana to treat football players. Cautious not to give an outright endorsement, Goodell said, “We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that.”

Right now, the National Hockey League is the only organized sport in the US that doesn’t test for cannabis because they don’t consider it to be a performance-enhancing drug. This is in sharp contrast to the NFL, which has banned a number of players for marijuana use, including Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner. Suspended indefinitely for repeat marijuana violations, Browner will not be allowed to play in the Super Bowl game that he helped his team reach. It won’t help him at all that his team’s head coach, Pete Carroll, just made a statement expressing openness to medical marijuana for football players.

“I would say that we have to explore and find ways to make our game a better game and take care of our players in whatever way possible. Regardless of what other stigmas might be involved, we have to do this, because the world of medicine is doing this.”

The NFL’s acquiescence to the American public’s stance on marijuana isn’t too surprising when you see how many current and former NFL players are experiencing head trauma-related medical issues, and how many of those are suing the NFL over it. In a current case in which 4800 players are suing the NFL, a judge just rejected a settlement of $765 million, saying the amount “may not be enough to cover injured players.”

Browner is yet another example of the many people who are jilted out of justice on the pathway to sensible weed laws. As his employers gradually warm up to medical cannabis, Browner’s career with the Seahawks remains fucked as a result of his cannabis use. It’s kind of like how President Obama decided to speak out about the injustice of marijuana prosecutions in the US, which unfairly target minorities, while not a single medical or recreational legalization bill in the country has addressed prior offenders, some of whom are serving time for weed-related crimes in states where weed is legal.


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