The National Football League (NFL) and the subject of medical cannabis continue to grab headlines after recent comments from former players, the league commissioner, and a high-profile team owner.
Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states as well as the District of Columbia and the NFL has a team in 22 of such states.
NFL is Against Medical Cannabis
The apprehension from the NFL makes no sense since no professional sports industry has suffered the most after retirement. This problem is real and needs to be looked at before it is too late as the failure to properly diagnose and treat former players has already resulted in tragedies.
Over the last year, we have seen an increase in the number of former NFL players speaking out in support of medical cannabis as a treatment for pain. The number of current players advocating for the use of medical cannabis has significantly declined and we think the league had something to do with this.
Last year, Eugene Monroe was released by the Baltimore Ravens less than a month after he became the first active player to publicly call on the league to allow the use of medical marijuana. Since his release from the Ravens, Monroe has become a leading cannabis advocate amongst former players for change in NFL policy.
Jerry Jones Stirs the Pot…Literally
The discussion surrounding the use of medical cannabis by NFL players started to heat up after Jerry Jones, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Cowboys, addressed the lifting of the NFL’s ban on its use at a recent NFL team owners meeting.
Jones has been dubbed the most influential owner in all of sports and his proposal is feasible and has the support of countless former and current players. Although the support is significant, any change to league policy must be negotiated through the collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
Another roadblock for medical cannabis goes by the name Roger Goodell. Last week, the NFL commissioner spoke out against medical marijuana in an interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning.
Goodell Cares About Ratings, Not Long-Term Health
We view the NFL Commissioners recent comments as somewhat comical and unfortunate as they are not based on fact and simply the commissioner’s opinion.
Although clinical research suggests that cannabis could be a better solution for pain than painkillers, Goodell does not agree and thinks it may not be healthy for the players long-term and has his own advisors on the case. Well Roger, when looking at the NFL from a macro level the game of football inherently “may not be healthy for the players long-term”.
These comments come at a time when the NFL’s image is under scrutiny. The league is at the center of a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit from more than 1,800 former NFL players who said they face long-term health problems due to improper and deceptive prescription drug-distribution practices by NFL teams.
Players Association Could Push for Change
This issue is reaching a breaking point and has become so significant that the NFLPA has formed a pain management committee to address these issues. Many advocates and ex-NFL players expect cannabis to become a major discussion point, especially after the recent press.
The NFLPA could urge the league to differentiate between the use of recreational and medical cannabis or push to lessen the penalties for a failed drug test.
The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in 2020, and both sides have said they might be willing to address the issue.
Cannabis Cures and the Time to Act is Now
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two completely different chemical compounds. Although researchers have found that THC helps with pain management, anxiety, and nausea, they have been unable to ascertain all of the benefits since cannabis has been illegal for the last century.
There is less research supporting the medical benefits associated with CBD but studies have shown it to be an effective treatment for countless illnesses and ailments. Research has found that CBD reduces pain, can impact mood and anxiety, and act like an anti-inflammatory and a neuro-protectant.
The National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering recently conducted a study and found strong evidence for cannabis as an effective treatment for chronic pain when compared to a placebo.
The time to act is now and we must act and advance legal cannabis initiatives at the federal level. From epilepsy to cancer, from diabetes to heart disease, cannabis can improve daily life for millions of people across the globe.