A new poll by CBS Sports indicates the college football coaches are approaching marijuana legalization with a more relaxed attitude than ever. They surveyed 130 active coaches who are currently leading FBS programs into the 2017 season, under the condition of anonymity and received candid answers in response.
CBS Sports found 35 percent of college football coaches believe marijuana should be legalized nationwide. In addition, 18 percent of coaches think players shouldn’t be tested or suspended for marijuana usage.
“I think it should be legal. Why? It’s legal all over our country. It’s legal for people who are sick. What we should do is make it legal, but there’s got to be a certain [threshold],” one coach said.
He also added, “I think we have it all reversed. I’m more [against] alcohol than I am marijuana. We drug test all these kids, so why don’t we breathalyze them? Nobody says, ‘You’re dying, grab some whiskey.’ You’ll die faster.”
Of course this isn’t a view held by all FBS coaches. There were 52 percent who stated marijuana should not be legalized while 13 percent said they had no opinion on the matter. Overall, 74 percent believe college athletes should be tested and suspended for marijuana usage.
Their reasoning? As multiple coaches said, they still view weed as a “gateway drug.”
“Right now, in [my team’s state], marijuana and opiates are a bad, bad killer,” one anonymous coach said.
Another coach expressed his view as such: “If I let you [smoke marijuana], I’m setting you up for failure. Right now, the two organizations that say you can’t [smoke] are the NFL and NCAA. You’re involved in one and want to be in the next one. … I really believe marijuana is a gateway drug.”
While the NCAA has been testing players on marijuana for decades, the organization softened its view in recent years. In 2014, it stated, “”Street drugs are not performance-enhancing in nature …” and also reduced the penalty for a positive marijuana drug test from the previous full-season suspension to a half-season.
The drug-testing process depends on which schooler the player attends. Generally speaking, Power Five schools drug-test their players, most conferences those schools belong to drug-test them, and the NCAA itself administers its own drug test. So most players face a three-screening process when it comes to marijuana.
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But as CBS Sports notes: “The hit rate for NCAA drug positives remain in the 2-3 percent range. If you think only 2-3 percent of players have illicit substances in their systems then you’re as dumb as the testers themselves. To get caught you either have to be stupid or sloppy.”
How much players are using might remain a mystery. But one thing’s for certain: college football coaches have softened their views on marijuana legalization, just like the rest of the country.