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NFL Rules Still Rigid As Super Bowl Comes To Its Most Pot-Friendly Host City Yet

A pot leaf is overlaid with the NFL logo.

Industry Events

NFL Rules Still Rigid As Super Bowl Comes To Its Most Pot-Friendly Host City Yet

This Super Bowl will be the first one hosted in a city where marijuana is widely available, albeit in a medical capacity.

Two years ago, Super Bowl XLVIII brought cannabis legalization into a favorable national spotlight, when teams from the first two states to legalize adult-use marijuana — the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos — battled for the title.

However, this year the legalization hype around the Super Bowl is minimal, despite the Denver Broncos returning to the championship match and the NFL hosting the game in San Francisco, a pioneer market in the medical cannabis industry since 1996.

This Super Bowl will be the first one hosted in a city where marijuana is widely available, albeit in a medical capacity. Dispensaries in San Francisco are taking advantage of the event, offering strain specials such as the “Bronco Mile High” and handing out free joints by the stadium, according to The Cannabist.

While football fans with California medical recommendations might be celebrating, the players on the field most likely will not be able to join in. The NFL continues to test its players for marijuana use, despite its recent move to soften its stance on the issue.

Back in September 2014, the league and the NFL Players Association agreed on a rule-change to raise the threshold for positive marijuana tests, and ensured that players will face lesser penalties for a single marijuana use offense. Additionally, players who are not in the NFL’s substance abuse program are only tested between April 20 and August 9, which is a window of time during the off-season that could allow players to use marijuana during the season.

One of the Bronco’s former players, Nate Johnson, has emerged as a leading advocate against the NFL’s marijuana policy, after he wrote a book on his time in the NFL in 2013.

“In my playing days, the marijuana smokers struck me as sharper, more thoughtful and more likely to challenge authority than the nonsmokers,” Johnson wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times. “It makes me wonder if we weren’t that way because marijuana allowed us to avoid the heavy daze of pain pills. It gave us clarity. It kept us sane.”

Johnson has suffered astounding amounts of physical breakdown, including tearing his groin off the bone and his hamstring off the bone twice, breaking his tibia and ribs and separating both shoulders. He also suffered the brain trauma that is nearly inescapable for NFL players — a study found in 2015 that 79 percent of professional football players have severe brain trauma, manifested in the degenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

But preliminary studies reveal evidence that cannabis use can help protect brains from the negative effects of trauma, such as concussions. A study in 2014 found that cannabis users were less likely to die from brain trauma, a 2008 study in Spain found that THC receptors in the brain are part of the brain’s healing process after injury, and a 2013 Brazilian study found that cannabidiol helped regenerate brain cells in mice.

Harvard emeritus professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a few weeks after 2014’s “Stoner Bowl,” wrote an open letter to the NFL calling for the league to invest in cannabis research as part of the league’s effort to combat the concussions and head trauma running rampant in the sport.

While currently there are no petitions demanding the NFL loosen its restrictions on marijuana use, cannabis lovers can protest in their own private way by celebrating the Super Bowl with delicious edible recipes. Just make sure that no children are present at your Super Bowl party if you are serving cannabis-infused treats, because children most likely will not be able to distinguish these edibles from the un-medicated dishes they replicate.

Three cannabis edible recipes for your Super Bowl party:

1. Use Cannabis Now’s base recipe for cannabutter and canna oil to make garlic bread with an extra kick.

2. Make guacamole with Super Lemon Haze for next-level chips and salsa.

3. Try our recipe for medicated mac-n-cheese.

Will you be smoking a super bowl during the Super Bowl? Tell us about your plans.

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