NFL Denies Free Agent’s Exemption Request For Therapeutic Marijuana

Like most NFL running backs in the history of the game, Mike James has had plenty of injuries. Some of them quite debilitating. However, because NFL stands for Not For Long, players are known to soldier through their many physical maladies.  In 2013, James was prescribed opioid painkillers after an ankle injury. According to James, he was addicted to the substance in a matter of weeks.  

Now he believes his career hangs in the balance. Because chronic pain that many professional football players will suffer the rest of their lives, a pain management regiment is certainly a quality of life issue. James has turned to medicinal marijuana to escape his addiction, but league officials still consider it a controlled substance.  

Suddenly, “my pain subsided,” James told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an exclusive interview in the documentary “Weed 4: Pot vs. Pills,” which aired Sunday night. 

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NFL running back Mike James is the first player in history to file a “therapeutic use exemption” for cannabis, seeking exemption to use medical marijuana for pain management

“I never had something where I could be coherent and still have pain relief,” he said. 

Currently, the NFL and NFL Players Association prohibit active players from using marijuana as part of the league’s policy on substance abuse. The irony is their current policy has some players fighting addiction.

The only way around the policy is if a player has what’s called a therapeutic use exemption indicating that the athlete requires the substance to treat a diagnosed medical problem. 

James made history last month as the first player to file for a therapeutic use exemption specifically for cannabis. On Thursday, he received a letter from the NFL, denying his exemption application. He vowed not to give up. 

“My career is at great risk,” said James, who is a free agent after being released by the Detroit Lions. 

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