Poll: 69 percent of Americans approve of pro athletes using marijuana

By Alex Butler  |  April 20, 2017 at 10:09 AM
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April 20 (UPI) -- A survey of 1,122 American adults discovered that 69 percent approve of marijuana use by professional athletes.

Yahoo released the Weed & The American Family project Monday.

Yahoo News and Marist Poll conducted the poll, which found that families where parents are users find marijuana use particularly acceptable.

The poll found that 69 percent of Americans approve of athletes using the drug for pain. It also found that 94 percent of active marijuana users and 84 percent of those who have tried the drug approve of its use. More than 40 percent of adults haven't tried marijuana and 48 percent of Americans older than 69 years old disapprove of athletes using it for pain relief.

The poll found that 52 percent of people 70 years old or older would lose respect for marijuana-using athletes. Conservatives [47 percent], those who haven't tried it [43 percent], and republicans [42 percent], would also lose respect for athletes who use marijuana.

Marijuana is currently a banned substance in the NFL. The league and the NFLPA are expected to negotiate the use of marijuana in its next labor deal. For now, players can get around the process as most of them know when they are tested and the penalties for using are less strict than in the past.

"What will we ever give up for marijuana," NFLPA president Eric Winston asked PFT Live in March. "We get tested once per year, 99 percent of them know it's coming."

"Is this a better alternative," Winston asked PFT. "At the end of the day the owners have to decide what they want to do. Do they want to make the game healthier for the players or not?"

DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA's executive director, told USA Today in March that the union plans to attempt to champion marijuana as a player health and safety issue.

"I think that there is a better way," Smith told USA Today, "to evaluate players who test positive for marijuana to figure out whether or not they have just a recreational use issue, whether they have an addiction problem, but equally important, whether or not they're using marijuana as a result of some other issue that we're not even looking for – whether there is a depression issue, whether there is an anxiety issue. And currently, the way the system works, that evaluation, that therapeutic look at the player isn't occurring."

"I believe if the players vote on it, it will be a policy that is in the best health and safety interest of the players, and we will treat it the same way that we treated changes in the collective bargaining agreement to make concussion protocols safer, practice on field safer, ways to ensure that players are treated the right way for injuries, and that's our obligation as a union."

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 28 states, while recreation marijuana is legal in eight states. NFL players, not in its substance abuse program, get tested once during the offseason for substance-abuse drugs. Players are currently punished if they are found with more than 35 nanograms per milliliter of urine of THC in their system.

In 2014, the NFL and NFLPA reached an agreement on wide-ranging changes to its drug programs.

One rule change was: players who test positive for banned stimulants during the offseason will no longer be suspended, but referred to the substance abuse program. Two discipline stages were also added for marijuana positives, including: a first violation now results in referral to the substance abuse program; later violations result in a two-game fine, four-game-fine, four-game suspension, 10-game suspension, or one-year suspension. The positive test threshold was also raised from 15 nanongrams to 35 nanograms, according to a NFL/NFLPA joint statement.

The NHL doesn't test for marijuana. NBA players undergo four random drug tests during the season and can be tested randomly twice during the offseason.

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