On Monday, the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced they would form two new joint committees to study medical marijuana’s effect on players with chronic pain.
One committee will focus on how to better manage pain in players, which includes an assessment for medical cannabis. The other will review the league’s drug policies and determine how marijuana could be permitted under a set of new rules, assuming the first committee deems cannabis is safe and won’t unfairly enhance the players’ chances at winning games.
“We’re asking our pain management committee to bring us any and all suggestions,” Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told the Washington Post. “We’ll look at marijuana.”
Currently, the NFL considers medical cannabis, especially the kind loaded with THC, a banned substance. Players caught smoking weed for medical or recreational purposes have been suspended or permanently kicked off the league, even though several active and retired players have said cannabis helps them in ways traditional pharmaceuticals do not.
“I think it’s a proud day for the NFL and the NFLPA to come together on these issues in a very public way,” Sillis said. “I think it demonstrates the spirit of cooperation we have around our health and safety issues… Both of these committees are about providing the best health care we can to players.”
Cannabis could help players reduce their intake of addictive pain killers, which have contributed to the nation’s opioid crisis. Players with traumatic brain injuries caused by concussions could also benefit from cannabis’s neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.
The NFL’s announcement comes just months after the NHL began a study on CBD for North America’s hockey players.
According to retired NFL champ Martellus Bennett, about nine out of 10 NFL players already smoke weed. Changing the league’s long-standing anti-cannabis policies may not get more ballers toking, but it would certainly put them at ease concerning the cancellation of their careers over a simple, life-saving plant.
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