Thursday, March 25, 2010

Time to Let Them Smoke Up

Or at least stop caring if they do it on their own time

Interesting story in Sports Illustrated this week, you can look at this piece as a serious cultural commentary or you can look at it as a bullshit fluff piece of the type that spontaneously erupts in the vacuum between NFL free agency and the draft.

Actually it is the former, marijuana use has achieved such a commodity status in society that we can now talk openly about first round NFL talent having a quote history of marijuana use unquote, or not seeing where admitted use would be problematic in a workplace like the NFL that expressly bans the drug and enforces that ban with suspensions and forfeiture of pay.

And those facts and circumstances in draft consideration are not accompanied by the words jeopardizing his career.

We are so far from 1995, when University of Miami defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who ran a 4.7 forty at the combine, fell from maybe number two or three overall down to number twelve overall to the hometown Buccaneers over stories of marijuana use, stories that I am fairly certain were backed in leaked college drug tests.

At this point NFL general managers and talent evaluators do not look at marijuana use, past or present, as something that automatically disqualifies a player from their draft boards, but rather a predilection toward pot use is something that is managed.

One anonymous NFL head coach is quoted in the Sports Illustrated piece thusly:

"It's pretty significant as a trend,'' the head coach said. "But if you knocked everyone off your board who has experimented with weed, you'd lose about 20 percent of your board, not to mention disqualify a few recent presidents. A third sounds a little high to me, but it's not a rare occurrence to have a player with some pot use in his background. You have to make a judgment on each individual guy."

That same head coach said that earlier in his NFL coaching career, if a player had failed a drug test for pot in college, his name would be quickly removed from the draft boards of most teams. But times have changed. Clubs are doing more work to try and identify whether a prospect's pot use falls under the experimentation heading, or is done with regularity. (op. cit.)

Look at how NBC's own Pro Football Talk reported on this story:

The issue would better be described as an epidemic of guys getting caught.

At this point you may as well decriminalize it in the NFL culture, that is the way it is heading in this country. Put the same rules on marijuana use that you would with alcohol, cigarettes, model glue or nitrous oxide, which is to say you do not come to work baked out of your gourd and try to fake it through practice.

See that's a problem, like when Chris Webber got pulled over on his way to Bullets practice, he was in his bigass SUV with a burning joint and no identification. Ok that's bad, that's not good and should raise a red flag just as would a guard hiding a flask in his gut or a safety with a whippetizer balloon hanging out his facemask.

That is where we are as a society. It is simply not considered bad anymore at large to have smoked pot, or even to smoke it occasionally. And we know it is not a performance enhancer, that argument is done. Remember Ross Rebagliati?

Ross was the Canadian snowboarder in the 1998 Nagano Japan Winter Olympics that won gold in the snowboard giant slalom, that medal was later stripped for a positive test for mary jane, then returned to Ross when a court of sports arbitration ruled the Olympics had no established policy for marijuana, which even then was acknowledged as not a performance enhancer.

Unless that is, you are trying to eat a whole pizza, drink a whole case of beer, reconcile Jerry Garcia versus Duane Allman and finish Legend of Zelda in one day, in this case marijuana definitely enhances performance but we will only see that sport in the Olympics if they come to Charlottesville in 1989.

The hilarious thing about the Ross Rebagliati story is that marijuana was added to the list of substances banned by the Olympics after this episode because, even as Olympic spokesperson the unfortunately named Dick Pound admitted pot could not possibly enhance an athlete's sporting performance, the Olympic committee

...[D]ecided in the case of social drugs we should take a stand, and Olympic athletes should be put to a somewhat higher standard than society in general, said the committee's vice president, Dick Pound...(op. cit.)

So the Olympic pot ban was all about social perception of marijuana use, not about its strict legality, which is not uniform across the globe. So they should not smoke pot. Eat all the McDonald's you want, fuck like bunnies, all fine. Just no getting baked and watching Ren and Stimpy DVDs.

But wait it gets better. That same year, 1998, Chris Webber was arrested a second time for pot, this time trying to bring eleven grams, a nug less than a half, through the airport in Puerto Rico. He paid his local fine and moved on but the publicity around the incident spurred talks between the league and the NBA Players Union about adding marijuana to the league's list of banned substances, which at the time consisted principally of cocaine and heroin.

Fast forward twelve years and our social perception of marijuana use has changed. The kids that grew up hearing horror stories about gateway drugs and psychotic rages and alleyways full of begging stoners too high to keep a job then grew up and realized science bears out no physical addiction, no propensity for migration to other habits and maybe even finds some medical benefits.

In California voters will see a November referendum on the legalization of marijuana, the measure proposes to legalize, regulate, sell and tax the hell out of it. Suddenly something we always knew, pot could be taxed like tobacco or liquor and sold safely to the public with the state reaping billions in new tax revenues of the only kind you are allowed to raise, sin taxes, that whole idea is now a serious economic and strategic idea by Very Important People, not just some hippy mumbling wouldn't it be great if into a smoky bong then immediately forgetting what he said.

Stop testing for it in the NFL, or make it a periodic test rather than a random test and enforce zero tolerance for showing up to practice stoned and just move on, pot's a thing now.

Marijuana bud from here via here.