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NFL's drug testing season conveniently begins on 4/20

That can’t be a coincidence.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

April 20 means different things to different people. Some people enjoy smoking marijuana, and to those folks, 4/20 is a celebration of that pastime. For NFL players, April 20 marks the day when the NFL opens drug testing for the new league year.

The league is strict about the testing protocols, even in the offseason. Once a player receives notice that they have to submit to a drug test, they have four hours to comply. This timetable isn’t flexible, even if a player is on vacation outside of the United States.

There are specific standards for each part of the process. If a sample is diluted, it’s treated the same as a positive test. If a player misses a drug test, the league views it the same way as testing positive.

Players do not face suspensions for the first violation, but they do enter the league’s substance abuse program. That means they’ll be tested more regularly, and the consequences ramp up with each violation.

It’s unwise for players to celebrate 4/20 on April 20, because they’re running the risk of getting hit with a random drug test. And they’d better not even tweet about 4/20. Former Colts punter Pat McAfee found that out the hard way.

Recreational marijuana is legal in some states now, but it’s still against the NFL’s rules. The rest of the world may be celebrating 4/20, but the consequences could be severe if NFL players do.