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Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL’s Head Medical Officer are Warming Up to Cannabis in Football

With a call for collaboration on marijuana research with the NFL Players Association already on the table, league officials are starting to drop their decades old skepticism.

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The National Football League is having a marijuana moment. With momentum from former and current players pushing to end the league’s baseless drug testing policy and heaps of negative press surrounding a recently released report about football’s severe effects on the human brain, league officials have started warming up to the idea of cannabis in football.

According to the Denver Post, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about the possible cannabis research at a panel discussion this week, where the league’s head honcho dropped his tired addiction and danger talking points for a more optimistic, health-centric approach.

“If pain management is something that medical marijuana can address responsibly, that’s something that our medical community is evaluating,” Goodell said. “We just proposed to our union in the last month or so that we put some research money behind that to see how we could implement that … if they can address pain management in an effective and safe fashion. That’s something that I assume will get a lot of discussion, but hopefully it involves a lot of research and medical opinions that can help us make the best decisions.”

The commissioner hasn’t hinted at any concrete changes on the horizon, but his sentiments are backed by Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, who also took time this week to talk to reporters about marijuana’s place in professional football.

“I think we have a lot more to learn about that,” Sills told reporters from the Washington Post. “Certainly the research about marijuana and really more particularly cannabinoid compounds as they may relate to the treatment of both acute and chronic pain, that is an area of research that we need a lot more information on and we need to further develop. I think that’s part of what we hope to accomplish together working together with the Players Association.”

“I think this is really important because I like to talk about that our approach to caring for players is really holistic.” Sills added. “We want to talk about health and safety issues that affect the whole player experience. And certainly pain management is a big part of that.”

The Players Association hasn’t accepted or denied the league’s olive branch of reefer research, but it would certainly seem in the athlete’s best interest to collaborate with their employer on a path to replacing the NFL’s rampant opioid dependence with all natural cannabinoids.  

The NFL and the Players Association could change or remove the cannabis ban when the two parties meet to rehash the league’s collective bargaining agreement in 2020.

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