Perhaps no one is more acquainted with chronic pain than a former NFL player. Being tackled by several men who are just as large as you (or larger) on the regular can do a number on your bones and joints, not to mention organs like your brain. So it should come as no surprise that many retired NFL players turn to marijuana to relieve their crippling ailments.
Now those players are banding together in an attempt to get the National Football League to drop their ban on marijuana once and for all since, as Leonard Marshall - the former defensive end for the New York Giants - points out, marijuana is significantly safer than the powerful painkillers that are passed around like candy in professional athletes’ locker rooms.
Marshall suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which, among other ailments, gives him severe headaches. Marshall is able to take the edge off of these headaches with cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in marijuana that doesn’t actually make you high like THC does. Marshall says that while CBD isn’t a quick fix for his CTE, he does begin to notice a significant improvement in his symptoms within a few minutes after taking it - an improvement that can last for hours after the CBD infiltrates his system.
The pain from football injuries often becomes so intense that stars like Junior Seau and Dave Duerson have sadly been driven to commit suicide in order to end their suffering from symptoms associated with injuries sustained during their years with the NFL.
Not all who are publicly advocating this cause are retired, however. Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan is still an active player, and he is the only active player championing for more research to be done so that more pain management options may be made available for both active and retired NFL players.
CBD has been used successfully in the treatment of children who are suffering from seizures brought on by epilepsy, as well as with various other neurological disorders. Cannabis is also being used to treat conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, as well as other ailments wherein pain and inflammation are common symptoms.
Despite successes in these areas, however, scientists are still wary of promoting cannabis’ medicinal potential. Dr. Douglas Smith, a professor of brain surgery and the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Brain Injury and Repair, says that there remains much that has yet to be proven about cannabis’ effects in a medicinal context.
And despite these current and former athletes’ pleas for the NFL to lift the ban on marijuana, the NFL is not expected to heed their cries anytime soon. That’s because marijuana is still considered a “Schedule I” drug, (i.e. the federal government says there is no medical use for it). Further, the NFL would probably rather not risk the possibility of losing fans and/or sponsors by taking on a controversial issue such as this one.
Marshall maintains that CBD has improved the quality of his life ten-fold, and with more states legalizing medicinal marijuana as time goes on, it can be assumed that the NFL will eventually have to respond to this issue, but that statement is not expected to be forthcoming from the league anytime in the immediate future.