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When it comes to legalized marijuana, substance-abuse policy isn’t as clear as NFL thinks


On Tuesday, enough voters in Colorado and Washington showed up and cast ballots to legalize marijuana in both states (so much for pot making you lazy). On Wednesday, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today that the legalization of marijuana in both states won’t change the application of the league’s rule prohibiting use of the substance.

Aiello said that marijuana remains prohibited under the substance-abuse policy. But a reading of the substance-abuse policy suggests otherwise.

The policy prohibits only the “illegal use” of marijuana. While players may not abuse legal substances like alcohol, legal drugs and alcohol may be used.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that members of the Broncos and Seahawks should celebrate with a little waking and baking. For starters, a fight with federal officials is potentially looming before the new state laws will become effective. If/when they do, however, the NFL will have to deal with the plain language of its substance-abuse policy.

The tweaking of the terms of the policy necessarily will become caught in the frozen-molasses effort to implement HGH testing, since neither the policy against steroids and related substances nor the substance-abuse policy have been finalized in the wake of the August 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

As written, the substance-abuse policy allows the legal use, but not the abuse, or marijuana. Until that’s changed, it’s a potential problem for the NFL.

And it provides an unlikely recruiting tool for the Broncos and the Seahawks.