Amid turmoil in the federal government over the future of federal drug policy, an unlikely force may be laying groundwork to alter the future of drug enforcement: the National Football League.
Tom Marino, the guy President Trump nominated for national Drug Czar because of his experience as an agent of pharmaceutical lobbyists while serving as a U.S. Congressman, has withdrawn his nomination because it is now being widely reported that he was an agent of pharmaceutical lobbyists while serving as a U.S. Congressman. And notoriously anti-weed Attorney General Jeff Sessions has just surprisingly sort-of called for increased quality in medical marijuana testing.
And while the fate of cannabis and other drugs’ policies hung in the balance, the NFL decided to make its own stand on drug policy. The league announced Monday that it will endorse a bipartisan bill aimed at reducing prison terms by lowering mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug crimes, as well as getting rid of “three-strike” life sentence policies and giving judges greater freedom to reduce sentences for some low-level offenses, as reported by The Cannabist.
“We felt that this was an issue over the last months, as we have continued to work with our players on issues of equality and on issues of criminal-justice reform, that was surfaced for us, and we thought it was appropriate to lend our support to it,” NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart said during a telephone press conference on Monday.
The motion comes as a kind of sideways response to the growing controversy over NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem at games. President Trump has threatened the league with increased tax scrutiny if it allows players to continue players to express their First Ammendment rights by taking a knee and “disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country.”
On Tuesday a meeting about the issues between eleven NFL team owners and 13 players resulted in “constructive” talks, but no change in NFL policy, which currently says that players “should” stand during the national anthem, but does not require them to.
Though sponsoring a bill aimed at reducing prison sentences for low-level crimes does not directly address the national anthem question, it does seem to be a response to some of the motivations players had for kneeling during the anthem in the first place, namely a racially biased and corrupt criminal justice system.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people, and people of color,” Kaepernick said at a press conference last year. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave, and getting away with murder.”
Photo by Flickr user Erin Costa