Unnamed NHL Player Reveals He Smokes Marijuana Vape Pen After Games

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2019

FILE - In this June 26, 2015, file photo, an NHL logo is shown before the start of the first round of the NHL hockey draft, in Sunrise, Fla. The NHL Free Agency period begins at noon Sunday, July 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
Alan Diaz/Associated Press

An unnamed NHL player for a Western Conference team said he uses a marijuana vape pen after games to help him fall asleep. 

On Thursday, Emily Kaplan of ESPN.com provided comments from "Player X" about his legal use of marijuana, which doesn't put him at any risk of NHL punishment.

"Just to relax," the player explained about his weed use. "Honestly, it's the easiest and most natural way for me to fall asleep and be ready for the next day."

He added: "I think it comes down to this—we are elite athletes and as long as it's not performance-enhancing or illegal, we know what's best for our own bodies. I find that a couple hits of weed at night is good for me. It's legal, it's natural, I don't see anything wrong with it."

The NHL does test for marijuana as part of its screening for substances of abuse and a player who tests positive for "abnormally high levels" of THC, the chief active ingredient of cannabis, can be contacted by leaders of the league's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) program, per Kaplan.

Dr. Dave Lewis and Dr. Brian Shaw of SABH will offer treatment, but the player can decline to enter the program and won't be punished by the league for the test results or his decision to turn down the offer.

"The thing that we're really looking for is if there's a guy that has an issue or a problem and he needs help—that's what we're trying to capture in that program," NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider told Kaplan. "I do think it has worked very well. We have a tremendous amount of faith in the doctors that run the program. Confidentiality in that program is of the utmost importance."

In October, Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid said the NHL should look into research about substances like cannabidiol (CBD) oil for its pain-relieve uses, per Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press.

"I say this more talking about the CBD side of it, obviously: You'd be stupid not to at least look into it," McDavid said. "When your body's sore like it is sometimes, you don't want to be taking pain stuff and taking Advil all the time. There's obviously better ways to do it."

So far, 33 states in the U.S. have passed laws governing the use of marijuana, including 10 allowing for the legal recreational use of the drug. Canada, the home of seven of the NHL's 31 teams, fully legalized weed in June 2018.

One agent raised concerns to Kaplan about the NHL's policy, however, saying the voluntary enrollment in SABH could lead to bigger issues for other drugs, such as cocaine and prescription pills:

"It hurts to say this, because I am always on the players' side and advocating for players, and I would never advocate for a situation for a team to increase the ability to discipline a player, but there are a lot of players who act recklessly. I think cocaine is still a huge problem in the league. I think there are other drugs that players are abusing. If it was known the league was testing and punishing for cocaine, levels of Ambien, Adderall and a whole list of other list of drugs that get abused, I think you would naturally have players cutting down on it. Unless players face a suspension or loss of pay, what would get their attention?"

Yet, if a player does enter SABH for treatment, they can receive a fine, suspension or other penalty "if conditions are breached" during the process.