Pubdate: Thu, 08 Nov 2012
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Jeffrey Martin


Voter approval of recreational marijuana use in Colorado and
Washington ignited a burst of jokes on social media about how
professional and college teams in those states would hold an advantage
in attracting athletes who like to light up.

Reality shot down that smoke screen on Wednesday.

"The NFL's policy is collectively bargained and will continue to apply
in the same manner it has for decades," league spokesman Greg Aiello
said. "Marijuana remains prohibited under the NFL substance abuse
program and the Colorado and Washington laws will have no impact..."

The responses from the NBA and MLB were almost identical. The NCAA
said the vote to legalize marijuana use would not affect its
drug-testing policy. NASCAR and MLS chimed in, citing the
legislation's looming obstacle -- a potential challenge from the
federal government over jurisdiction.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which prompted Colorado
Gov. John Hickenlooper to warn his constituents they should not "break
out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."

"Anyone who thinks it's a weed free-for-all in Colorado as a result of
the legislation is mistaken," said Bronson Hilliard, director of
communications at the University of Colorado, where smoking anything
on campus is against the rules because it's a fire hazard.

If the law is enacted, a student age 21 years or older can use
marijuana in private, but his or her fellow student-athletes cannot.

"The NCAA banned drug and testing policies are not tied to whether a
substance is legal for general population use, but rather whether the
substance is considered a threat to student-athlete health and safety
or the integrity of the game," NCAA spokesperson Erik Christianson

Hall of Famer and former Denver Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe told
USA TODAY Sports that the NFL standards are not based solely on what
is legal.

"There's a lot of things that are legal outside of the NFL. Ephedra,
Adderall -- there's certain things you can take as a normal citizen
walking around the street that are legal," Sharpe said.

John Infante, a former compliance officer at Colorado State and Loyola
Marymount, said gradual reform might occur regarding penalties for
athletes caught using marijuana.

"But I doubt it will ever be permitted, especially during the season,
because legal or not, coaches believe it will decrease performance,
just like alcohol," said Infante, a NCAA expert at

NCAA president Mark Emmert said Wednesday his organization hasn't held
any discussions on relaxing its standards.

Sharpe says in the NFL "it will never happen."

"Not in our lifetime because of the way kids follow what NFL players
do. If you look at Little League football, kids who play want to wear
the pink towels and shoes for breast cancer awareness. They follow
everything that the big guys do."
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