ProFootballDoc: Drug Testing Window for NFL Starts Today On 4/20 But Marijuana Still Allowed

Today (4/20) is the day when random testing for a substance of abuse can begin for NFL athletes.

However, it is ironic that on this unofficial cannabis holiday of 4/20, players can still freely smoke pot without league repercussions as the testing window that opened today applies only to non-cannabinoid drugs.

NFL players can be tested for all substances of abuse starting today but not for marijuana now that the rules are different and more relaxed.

The NFL Players Association (union) used to tweet out annual reminders to its members to stop smoking the month before 4/20, as the metabolite THC that is tested for can stay in the body for 30 days.

Said cannabis test (with relaxed THC threshold levels) is only administered between the start of training camp and the first preseason game.

Even if a player tests positive, they cannot be suspended or penalized for a first offense. However, they could be subject to additional testing and requirements.

The NFL rules, agreed to under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, apply even if marijuana use is legal in a state.

The once-a-year testing has been referred to as an "intelligence test" (testing those smart enough to stop for the month before training camp).

It is not by coincidence that there are 1,696 active players in the NFL, and we very rarely hear about positive tests or suspensions for pot smoking.

This truly makes 4/20 a potential Happy Holidaze for some players.

Written by
David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.