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NFL substance-abuse policy: a road map to a four-game suspension –

NFL substance-abuse policy: a road map to a four-game suspension“Talk about Interesting… read the story below and decide how the NFL should handle the Marijuana situation while the government projects $1 Billion in tax revenue from the sale of it and complains they spend $650 Billion a year to fight the war on drugs.  They are unleashing the gateway to hell while profiting.  What’s an NFL player supposed to do?

What is your kid supposed to do with mixed messages?  The disease of Addiction needs to be recognized before it can be treated. Those that don’t have the disease should wonder why they need drugs for recreation or tax revenue while exemplifying power and control to those with the disease.  I call it a side-way spiral with no results for those who are asking for answers.  What do you call it?”, stated Tyler Cornell, CEO of


Neither the Redskins nor Trent Williams is offering further details about how the Pro Bowl left tackle ended up getting suspended for four games at the season’s midpoint, apart from the six-sentence statement the team issued within minutes of the announcement of his punishment Tuesday evening.

The development caught many by surprise, largely because under the NFL’s revised substance-abuse policy issued September 2014, it takes four positive or “missed” tests (which are treated the same as positive tests) to trigger a four-game suspension when the drug in question is marijuana.

On Tuesday, the NFL announced that Williams was suspended for four games without pay for violating the policy. The suspension sidelines him for the 4-3-1 Redskins’ upcoming games against Minnesota, Green Bay, Dallas and Arizona. According to two sources with information about the situation, Williams triggered the penalty by missing a test.

How did he reach this point?

The league’s 41-page policy serves as a road map, spelling out the schedule of penalties for failing (or missing) a drug test. The policy also spells out a time frame in which a player with a history of positive tests can have his record “wiped clean,” in effect, for proving he’s “clean” by passing random drug tests.

Williams did that, according to sources with knowledge of his situation. The positive marijuana tests that triggered a four-game suspension in 2011 didn’t count toward his current suspension, they said. Williams was believed to be starting from scratch.

Another key distinction: The NFL relaxed its standard for what constitutes a positive marijuana test in its 2014 policy revisions. Prior to 2014, a level of 15 nanograms per milliliter was counted as a positive, the most stringent standard in pro sports. Under the revisions, 35 ng/ml counts as a positive.

Here is the NFL’s current schedule of penalties for marijuana positives. If it was applied correctly, it serves as a road map, in effect, for how Williams ended up with a four-game suspension:

  • First violation: Referral to a substance-abuse program.
  • Second violation: Fine equivalent to two game checks. (The player’s NFL team isn’t necessarily informed, as the punishment does not affect playing time).
  • Third violation: Fine equivalent to four game checks. (Again, the team isn’t necessarily informed).
  • Fourth violation: Four-game suspension.
  • Fifth violation: 10-game suspension.
  • Sixth violation: One-year banishment.

Many former NFL players and some health advocates argue that the league’s stance on marijuana remains too harsh. They argue that marijuana is a safer, more effective pain-killer than many of the addictive drugs typically prescribed for pain. Others say marijuana helps them relax and speeds healing following the amped-up punishment of game day.

All NFL players are tested once each year during the off season, between April 20 and Aug. 9.

Players who test positive are referred to a treatment program for 90 days and can be tested as frequently as deemed necessary for a proper evaluation (Stage One). A player who tests positive while in Stage One is referred to Stage Two and subject to frequent random tests, but no more than 10 times per month.



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