NFL player Seantrel Henderson is in his third year in the league where he plays offensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills. He is currently facing his second suspension for using a substance that is banned for use by the league and player’s union: cannabis.
Since it is his second offense, Seantrel faces a 10-game suspension, something he is expected to appeal.
What would make someone living their dream in the NFL want to buck the system and demand that marijuana use be allowed by players? There could be several reasons, but in Seantrel’s case, the reason is dire medical circumstances.
He suffers from Crohn's Disease, which is an inflammatory bowel condition that has caused him to have 2 surgeries so far: one to remove a large chunk of his colon and another to reattach his intestines. Between the surgeries Seantrel lost 50 pounds and has been using marijuana to treat his ailments. He was suspended for the first time at the beginning of the season in September, a 4-game suspension he and his agent chose not to appeal.
“Merciful or not, there is no medical exception that the NFL will accept. It doesn’t matter that Seantrel is battling Crohn’s disease, and has had his intestines outside his body,” Seantrel’s agent, Brian Fettner, told ESPN. “It doesn’t matter how you take it, if you digest the cannabis, that’s it. And they don’t care.”
Many players, mostly retired from the NFL, have come forward and told the NFL that their ban on medical cannabis needs to be changed. For a sport that results in a lot of injuries and leads to a lot of prescription painkiller use, it seems like common sense.
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there is much chance of the NFL reviewing their policy until the league and player’s union go back to the bargaining table in 2020.