Recently, there have been several instances of athletes finding themselves in trouble with marijuana, and the consequences have varied in severity. Such incidents have led many to believe that there should be a universal marijuana policy across college football.
These incidents have included:
- Four members of the Auburn football team being charged with misdemeanor, second-degree marijuana possession.
- Before the NFL draft, the Twitter account of Laremy Tunsil, offensive tackle from Ole Miss, was hacked and a video of him smoking a gas mask bong is released. This causes him to drop from a top 5 draft pick to 13th, costing him $13 million.
- Two Georgia football team members are arrested in a parking garage on the university campus. They leave the scene in handcuffs and are charged with misdemeanor possession.
At this point, the standard procedure for determining fault has been random drug testing, and positive results have led to player suspensions. However, the requirements for these suspensions are not consistent across the various conferences. The Southeastern Conference specifically contains teams on both ends of the marijuana policy spectrum.
Georgia’s policy is the toughest with the following penalties for the first three offenses:
- 1st– one game suspension
- 2nd– four game suspension
- 3rd– dismissal from the team
There are only two other schools in the SEC (Mississippi State and Kentucky) that require an athlete to lose playing time for their first offense.
By comparison, Auburn, also a SEC conference university, has the following penalties for marijuana use:
- 1st– probation
- 2nd– quarter of the season suspension
- 3rd– half of the season suspension
- 4th– whole season suspension
- 5th– dismissal from the team
As you can see, there’s quite a big difference between these collegiate football programs.
While a dialogue for change has been brought up, no positive steps have been taken in determining a universal marijuana policy, and there could be many reasons why. First, larger universities don’t enjoy giving up control when it comes to their athletes. Additionally, SEC football states aren’t necessarily jumping through hoops to legalize marijuana.
Until such time as these southern states start to legalize marijuana, there will likely continue to be inequality in how college football players are punished for marijuana possession and consumption.