Ex-NFL player says league prescribes dangerous drugs

Retired professional football player Eugene Monroe is warning that the National Football League (NFL) is prescribing dangerous drugs to its players, and argues it should relax its rules on the use of marijuana by players.

“The NFL needs to sort of look at what they’re doing a bit different – one, they’re prescribing drugs that are very dangerous,” Monroe told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”

He argued that marijuana doesn't have "the same addictive nature" as opioids, pointing to a 2016 study by the University of Michigan that found that patients using medical marijuana to alleviate chronic pain reduced their use of prescription medications.

Monroe, who played eight seasons in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, said the league needs to revisit its hardline policy against the use of medical marijuana.

The league prohibits the use of the drug under any circumstances, and the first time a player tests positive for the drug, they are enrolled in a mandatory substance abuse program. Multiple offenses can lead to suspension.

Monroe argues that the NFL officials needs to approve medical cannabis as a legitimate and safer alternative to pain management. The former offensive tackle said that opioid addiction among professional football players has become a more of a problem than may be believed.

“It’s more common than you think and unfortunately you hear about it in small spaces when a place with a big namesake has an issue and decides to come out and speak about it much later, but a lot of guys are suffering,” he told Hill.TV.

Since his retirement in 2016, Monroe has become an outspoken advocate for marijuana, and has frequently challenged the NFL on the issue.

Other former players like Derrick Morgan and Jake Plummer have also come out in support of the issue. In an op-ed for Sports Illustrated, Plummer discussed how marijuana helped him become “virtually pain-free” after having to undergo surgery for football-related injuries.

The NFL has taken some steps to soften its stance on its marijuana policy amid the ongoing opioid crisis and the growing marijuana legalization movement. In 2017, the league wrote a letter to the NFL Players Association offering to cooperate on a marijuana-related study into the potential use of cannabis for medical rehabilitation. 

The NFL Players' Association also announced that it intends to propose a “less punitive” approach to dealing with recreational marijuana use. But, so far, this plan has yet to materialize, and many of the pain medicines that are used by team doctors continue to fuel a multi-billion dollar industry.

— Tess Bonn