NFL pledges to support cannabis research



On June 8, a commission formed between the NFL and the league players’ union plans to award up to $ 1 million in grants to researchers to study the therapeutic potential of marijuana, CBD and other alternatives to drugs. opioids to treat pain.

The cannabis industry has long viewed major league sports as a benchmark for comparing income. Ultimately, major league sports are mainstream businesses. On average, the NFL generates $ 15-18 billion a year. The cannabis industry in the United States alone has far exceeded this benchmark.

What the NFL says about cannabis matters. The NFL’s $ 1 million research grant to study the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids echoes Amazon’s recent announcement urging the federal government to pull itself together.

For decades, federally approved marijuana research in the United States has only been licensed to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) which is part of the University of Mississippi at Oxford. Historically, NIDA’s research mandate has been to reinforce why a substance like cannabis is so deleterious to humans and society that it should be maintained as a Schedule I controlled substance, defined as having no substance. no therapeutic benefit, no medical benefit and high potential for abuse.

Despite promises of cannabis research reform, the federal government can still only receive research proposals on controlled substances showing this significant potential for abuse and dependence. This was legally challenged by Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist and former clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Additionally, in 2017, Alexis Bortell, 12, along with a few other plaintiffs, including former NFL lineman Marvin Washington, sued the federal government for maintaining marijuana as a schedule drug. 1. This case was dismissed, but a Federal Court of Appeal reinstated it. Two years later, there has been no official response from the government and the case is still pending. A cannabinoid such as cannabinol (CBD) can be derived from both legal definitions of cannabis – marijuana or industrial hemp – and is now used in pharmaceutical drugs, like Epidiolex. Therefore, the designation in Schedule 1 is no longer valid.

The NFL is not talking about advertising cannabis. These are the medical, or at least therapeutic, benefits of cannabinoids, which are part of a growing acceptance of cannabis by major league sports organizations.

In March 2020, a collective agreement approved by NFL team owners removed the possibility of players being suspended from games for testing positive for any substance – not just marijuana. In 2019, the MLB removed cannabis from the league’s list of banned substances. Last year, the NBA introduced a temporary policy against random drug testing players for marijuana amid the pandemic; it will probably become permanent. In January 2021, the UFC announced it would no longer punish athletes who tested positive for marijuana. In recent years, the NHL has taken a progressive stance on cannabis, and in 2019, the NHL Alumni Association signed a deal with a Canadian cannabis company to determine if it can help former players quit. opioids.

Consider the increased awareness surrounding traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among current and retired athletes. In 2017, the medical journal JAMA published a study that found that CTE was present in 99% of the brains of deceased NFL players that were donated to scientific research. The NFL’s financial support for cannabinoid research resulted from the evaluation of potentially beneficial therapy to help its players.

Beyond traumatic injuries, there is also the potential for muscle recovery and relief from inflammation. Former Philadelphia Flyer badass Riley Cote, a guy you wouldn’t want to face because he’ll put your elbow down your throat over and over again, has publicly discussed the use of cannabis for pain relief, nutrition support. and development.

Although cannabis is still treated as a Schedule 1 substance, it is well documented that there are new anti-inflammatory qualities of cannabinoids.

Ultimately, the NFL is a business. The league is now lobbying the federal government, much like Amazon, which has just publicly supported the MORE law to advance the legalization of marijuana in the United States. At a minimum, we need to be able to research this plant to scientifically determine whether it is beneficial to humans. This is especially true for athletes, so kudos to the NFL for raising the torch and doing the right thing for the players.

The therapeutic potential of cannabis has also been advocated by Athletes for CARE, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit founded in 2017, run by former players finding support, opportunity and purpose in life by using their influence for social change. The organization aims to improve health and wellness options worldwide for current and former athletes living with mental and physical illnesses, including chronic pain, depression, anxiety, PTSD, CTE, TBI, drug addiction and opioid dependence.

Athletes for CARE Executive Director Anna Valent comments, “We are delighted that the NFL is investing a small amount in research into the therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids, such as CBD. We hope this is a start and signifies a change in attitude towards cannabis as a treatment option for many conditions. Hopefully this small investment will give them the confidence to incorporate cannabis into their other research initiatives as well, such as the hundreds of millions of dollars they have invested in head injury research. There is some evidence that cannabinoids can protect against brain damage and aid in the healing process and this should also be taken into account for these studies. At the end of the day, it’s not just a matter of ethics to protect the long-term health of their athletes, but it’s also good business.

The road to legalization is paved by clinical research. For the record, we’ve heard millions of personal stories about how the cannabis plant has improved the quality of life. From Charlotte Figi to Dr. Mechoulam’s research at the School of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, we know that there is a symbiotic relationship between cannabinoids and the human body. We know and have documented the novelty of the human endocannabinoid system. The federal government dragged its feet, continuing to claim that the plant has no therapeutic value when it is unequivocally known that it does. We are once again seeing mainstream companies taking action in the absence of sensible policy on the part of the federal government – this can be a turning point. We need the influence of organizations like the NFL to move the cannabis conversation forward. It is not just about legalizing, but about ending decades of failed drug policy. With momentum from the NFL and Amazon, this could finally mark the new frontier of American cannabis, because we’ve all waited long enough.


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