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Cannabis Confidential: NFL players weigh in on medical marijuana vs. painkillers

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Woodson thinks it's time for the NFL to pursue medicinal marijuana (1:40)

Charles Woodson thinks the NFL is too image conscious to allow its players to use medical marijuana, despite its many benefits. (1:40)

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's November 14 Pain Issue. Subscribe today!

IT'S HIGH TIME to get the lowdown on marijuana in the NFL. (See what we did there?) So, with a promise of anonymity, we asked 226 players from the AFC and NFC for real talk on pot use in the league.* Spoiler alert: When it comes to going green -- from legalization of marijuana in the U.S. to the efficacy of pot for pain control -- NFL players just say yes.


Should medical marijuana be legal in all states?

Yes 71 percent
No 29 percent


Have you ever known a teammate to use marijuana before a game?

Yes 22 percent
No 78 percent


Is it hard to beat the NFL's testing system for recreational drugs?

Yes 33 percent
No 67 percent


Have you ever used marijuana to help with concussion symptoms?

Yes 17 percent
No 83 percent


Have you ever had a teammate who you think became an addict because of NFL painkiller abuse?

Yes 42 percent
No 58 percent


What would you rather use if both were allowed by the NFL: Toradol** or marijuana?

Toradol 57 percent
Marijuana 43 percent


Do you worry about the long-term effects of painkillers?

Yes 59 percent
No 41 percent


If marijuana were an allowed substance, would fewer players take painkillers?

Yes 61 percent
No 39 percent


Which is better for recovery and pain control: marijuana or painkillers?

Marijuana 41 percent
Painkillers 32 percent
Neither 27 percent


What percentage of players do you think take painkillers on a regular basis?

Average answer 46 percent


*The AFC (127 respondents) and NFC (99 respondents) received separate surveys; no single question's results reflect more than 127 votes. Percentages are rounded.

**A non-narcotic NSAID.