The National Football League has denied free agent running back Mike James an exemption for using cannabis as a painkiller, NBC Sports reports. James, a 2013 sixth-round Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft pick, applied for a therapeutic exemption to use cannabis – which is banned by the league – but officials turned him down.
James is not currently signed to an NFL team but free agents are still subject to league drug tests.
“I am hopeful that I’ll be able to keep playing football. It is a game that I love very dearly. I know right now I’m doing something that makes some people uncomfortable, and that I’m going against the establishment to push for a change in the way they look at this medicine. I know there’s a greater purpose here for a lot of guys in this league who I consider family members.” – James to NBC Sports
According to CNN James was the first active NFL player to file for a therapeutic exemption to use cannabis. Dr. Sue Sisley, a board member of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, helped James fill out the form after he tested positive for cannabis in October as part of the league’s drug testing protocol.
“Mike’s case is such a perfect example of why cannabis needs to be made available, because he’s really not a candidate for opioids. So this is a safe alternative for him.” – Sisley to CNN
The NFL has not commented on the denial.