The NFL has removed all suspensions for marijuana use in its proposed CBA, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is reporting.
At first glance, it appears to be the shift in policy that many players have been wanting for years. But it's not. As far as I can understand, the testing program stays the same. Players can only be tested once per year (unless they've previously tested positive), and that test comes between late April and early August. The difference now is that positive tests will only result in fines rather than suspensions.
A first positive test puts you in "stage 1" with no other consequence. A second positive test puts a player in "stage 2," again with no consequence. From there, subsequent positive tests result in fines of half of a game check, one full game check, two game checks and three game checks (the max). Suspensions only occur when players refuse to cooporate with the testing procedures.
If we are being honest, this isn't that much of a step forward to players. Working for free is essentially being suspended, if not worse. These new rules are far more of a benefit to teams and owners, who now no longer have to worry about losing players due to drug-related suspensions (excluding PEDs, of course).
Imagine a player losing three game's worth of income and being told by the league, "Hey, don't worry about it, you can still play!"
The testing system remains very "beatable" for players who are smart about their use of weed. But that's not the point. If the NFL was serious about making a concession when it comes to marijuana, it would have removed all penalties and stopped testing for it all together. That's what Major League Baseball did back in December when it removed weed from the league's list of banned substances.
It's not that complicated. The NFL just refuses to get on board.
(CBA note: Player voting began Thursday morning and will remain open for seven days. A simple majority in favor of the new deal is all that's needed for ratification.)