Last weekend’s Superbowl was the first ever to take place in a state where cannabis is fully legal. However, while fans and half-time performers alike enjoyed a toke at the season-ending showpiece in Los Angeles, National Football League (NFL) rules ensured that the cannabis industry took no part in the world’s most lucrative annual sporting event.
Cannabis Finally Makes It To The Superbowl
The NFL is infamous for its draconian stance on pot. With this year’s championship game taking place in California, though, league officials were powerless to stop spectators from visiting a local dispensary and lighting up outside the stadium.
Bookies were even taking bets on whether or not Snoop Dogg would use cannabis during his Superbowl half-time performance. Sadly, the rapper didn’t spark up a joint while on stage, but a video that has been widely shared online shows him puffing on a spliff just before starting his set.
In all likelihood, this was far from the first time that cannabis had made it to the Superbowl. Numerous former NFL players have stated that they and their teammates regularly used weed for pain management during their careers. Unfortunately, though, they could not admit to this publicly until after they retired for fear of being suspended by the league.
The NFL’s no-tolerance approach to weed also ensured that no cannabis advertisements appeared on national broadcasts. With over 100 million viewers, the Superbowl represents arguably the most prominent advertising opportunity of the year. While alcohol invariably features heavily among the ads on show, the NFL blocked TV networks from airing a commercial produced by Weedmaps.
The banned advertisement didn’t promote any actual products but was part of an educational campaign to spread awareness about the censorship of cannabis.
Competition for advertising slots at the Superbowl is intense, with companies paying millions of dollars for just a few seconds of air time during breaks in play. Yet as the NFL’s ironic stonewalling of the Weedmaps ad highlights, cannabis businesses are excluded altogether from taking part.
Sadly, this is not the first time that this has happened. In 2019, the league prevented a similar advertisement calling for cannabis legalisation from broadcasting during the Superbowl.
Will The NFL Ever Accept Pot?
As mentioned, many NFL players continue to use cannabis products to deal with the rough and tumble of American football. Previously, the league has shown little interest in scientific evidence, continuing to ban players who test positive for pot while sanctioning the use of harmful opioid painkillers.
However, with discussions around cannabis dominating the build-up to the Superbowl, the NFL announced that it is to donate a million dollars to help fund two studies into the analgesic effects of cannabinoids. Both studies will look at the benefits of using pot to treat pain in elite athletes, and the NFL says it will reconsider its approach to cannabis once it sees the results.
No current NFL players will be allowed to take part in either study, although these research projects could well open the door for cannabis to play a more significant role at the Superbowl in the future.