NFL Player Using Marijuana for Crohn’s Disease May Press League Over its Drug Policy

Article by Cindy Boren, The Washington Post

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Seantrel Henderson, a third-year offensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills, is facing his second suspension of the season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse rules. But Henderson’s case is unusual because it raises fresh questions about the approach to pain management and changing attitudes about the legalization of marijuana.

What makes Henderson’s situation unique is that he uses marijuana, which is legal in many states but prohibited under the collective bargaining agreement in the NFL, to combat the pain from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that just this year has caused him to have two surgeries. In January, 2 1/2 feet of his colon were removed and in April he underwent surgery to reattach his intestines. In the interim, he wore an ileostomy bag and lost 50 pounds. He chose not to appeal the four-game suspension he received in September, his first of the season.

But Henderson is expected to appeal what would be a 10-game suspension for this second offense for using a banned substance. The NFL is expected to decide his punishment this week and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that Henderson may take the matter to court.

“Merciful or not, there is no medical exception that the NFL will accept. It doesn’t matter that Seantrel is battling Crohn’s disease, and has had his intestines outside his body,” his agent, Brian Fettner, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter in September after the first suspension. “It doesn’t matter how you take it, if you digest the cannabis, that’s it. And they don’t care.”

Fettner went on to explain their reasoning for not appealing the first time around, saying, “So you can appeal and lose, and push it back, or you can get it over with. Per the negotiated letter of law, it seems like a futile appeal. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time. We want Seantrel back as soon as possible.”

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