The XFL, an alternative, off-season football league led by World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon, will reportedly not include cannabis among their drug testing protocols, according to an American Football International report. WWE talent – who are considered contractors – are tested for cannabis, however, and fined $2,500 per positive test.
In May, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck told Sports Illustrated that the league would “prefer not to test for marijuana” but would test for performance-enhancing drugs. The lack of testing for cannabis could make the fledgling league an alternative for players who have left the NFL for cannabis use. Last year, the league denied free agent running back Mike James a therapeutic use exemption for cannabis to manage pain; however, James was not included in the XFL draft. In April, retired NFL player Martellus Bennett estimated that 89 percent of players in the league use cannabis.
Earlier this year, the NFL and NFL Players Association announced the creation of a Joint Pain Management Committee that would include cannabis as part of its research into pain management and alternative therapies.
The XFL, to its credit, experimented with several changes to football during its first — and only — season in 2001, including the sky camera and relaxed celebration policies which were both eventually adopted by the NFL. The XFL cannabis policies could impact the NFL this time around if it were to result in players choosing to take their talents to off-season league. In all, 71 players were drafted in the XFL draft in October to eight teams; there are expected to be about 500 players throughout the league.
The league kicks off February 8.