NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday that he thinks the banned drug marijuana has an "addictive nature" and doubts the league will clear it anytime soon as a pain-relief alternative.
In all, 26 of 50 US states have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, with three more set to join them once already approved measures begin. Four states with NFL teams have legalized marijuana for recreational use and many more have approved medical uses, but Goodell remains dubious.
"I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use," Goodell said. "Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you're ingesting smoke, so that's not usually a very positive thing that people would say.
"It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered."
Goodell said the NFL would continue to evaluate marijuana as a medical painkiller.
"It's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game," Goodell said. "We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road."
The league and the NFL Players Association have medical advisers who examine such issues on many medications.
"If people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the NFLPA and the NFL, and we'll sit down and talk about that," Goodell said.
"To date, they haven't said this is a change we think you should make that's in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, we're certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven't really said that."