Recently, the NFL reached out to the NFL Players Association to open the discussion about the “potential use of marijuana as a pain management tool,” the Washington Post reports.
“We look forward to working with the Players Association on all issues involving health and safety of our players,” the NFL’s executive vice president of communications said of the letter written to the NFLPA.
Although the NFL currently bans the use of marijuana, many ballers have faced discipline for violating the substance abuse policy. From the outside looking in, many fans question the reasoning behind risking a multimillion-dollar opportunity for a little weed. But it seems there may be a deeper issue behind the excessive substance abuse violations in the NFL.
Why can’t these athletes stay off the weed?
According to retired NFL offensive lineman Eben Britton, “[Cannabis] is a medicinal herb that provides the only potential solution to both concussions/CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and the opiate epidemic.”
Britton, alongside several athletes from the NFL, NBA, NFL and UFC created a nonprofit organization to promote alternatives to athlete wellness, focusing heavily on the use of marijuana in the sports, particularly football.
“The guys who consume cannabis through their football careers are going to be in much better shape coming out of them than the guys that don’t,” Britton said.
The organization, Athletes For Care, prides itself on providing a “safe space” for athletes who are interested in alternatives for their medication to combat pain, stress, and anxiety. The group advocates for marijuana use in place of opioids and painkillers, which are frequently abused in the league. Such drugs/painkillers, which are usually supplied by the team, could even cause a decrease in production. Which is why at least 50 percent of NFL players use marijuana as an alternative, so says Britton. Especially since it is fairly easy to finesse the system, as the league only tests once a year, randomly during the offseason.
“Where painkillers cloud thinking, cannabis allowed me to play with a clear mind,” Britton said, highlighting the fact that the herb can also help players play through injury. “Cannabis is a huge part of my daily regimen. Exercise, nutrition, medication, fasting – I’m approaching my physical and mental health from all sides because of the realities that I’m potentially facing with CTE.”
Now that the NFL has opened its ear to the idea of easing up on rules about marijuana use, Athletes For Care is working overtime to find the science that backs up their claims. But, since the herb is still a Schedule 1 drug, the research is difficult to come by. As a result, the organization has partnered with The Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp and Hemp at Thomas Jefferson University to promote such research.
“We’re dedicated to addressing the areas for which cannabis therapy is hyped without a whole lot of evidence to support it,” the center’s director revealed. “Some of those areas are in recovery from acute injury and in dealing with and perhaps preventing chronic traumatic encephalopathy.”