NFL Adds Synthetic Weed to Banned Substance List

The real stuff is still on the list too.
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NFL players will now be tested for synthetic marijuana as a part of a series of changes to the league's drug policy that were announced Wednesday. Synthetic marijuana, known better by brand names like Spice and K2, is now one of nine drugs that players will undergo regular tests for.

It’s hard to imagine anyone having a problem with this. Synthetic marijuana is a more dangerous version of the real thing without the proven benefits. Made by spraying dried plant pieces with THC-like chemicals, synthetic marijuana has resulted in at least one high profile scare in the NFL. In January, then-Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones was rushed to the hospital after having a bad reaction to fake weed. Outside the NFL, there have been plenty of horror stories linked to synthetic marijuana, including dozens of deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations.

By banning synthetic marijuana, the NFL is making the right move. Players pushed toward the stuff because real weed is also banned might stay away from it now. If the NFL wants to really do the right thing though, it will allow players to smoke the kind of marijuana that comes out of the ground.

The league’s prohibition of marijuana denies players a viable alternative to the opioids so many are prescribed to deal with the painful reality of playing the NFL. Former stars like Kyle Turley and Ricky Williams have fought for the league to allow wider use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Truth is, they’re doing it anyway, Williams says. Earlier this year he told Sports Illustrated that 60 to 70 percent of the league is getting high and managing to avoid the positive tests. And, Williams says, they’re better off for it.