Liz Bianco
Feb 14, 2017

No Need For The NFL To Punt


The use of cannabis by NFL players has long been a subject of discussion. Initially, the NFL took the same position as the federal government—that is, that marijuana usage was absolutely prohibited. But over the course of the last decade, attitudes within the league have softened somewhat. It became clear that regardless of any rules, NFL players had discovered that marijuana, aside from its obvious recreational pleasures, could be very important, in helping people deal with the problem that inevitably comes along for all athletes— pain.

Slowly, as more and more state legislatures legalized the medicinal use of marijuana, and now more than a handful have also approved its recreational usage, the NFL position has evolved, albeit unofficially. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently, and cautiously, opened the door to the eventual use of marijuana for football-related pain. Although he never said it, it is clear that what was behind the commissioner’s statements was the grudging acceptance that people who needed to do it would find a way to do it no matter what. This of course was a significant part of the thinking that legalized marijuana in more than half of the country in recent years.

The anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties of cannabinoids can hardly be overlooked. In fact nearly all of the states that have approved marijuana for medical usage have explicitly recognized that perhaps the major advantage of the plant is its analgesic effect. But, perhaps even more importantly, many states have also recognized the efficacy of cannabis in treating head trauma-- the effects of which over time have become the scourge of so many of aging  NFL stars.

As a result of all this, the NFL players Association has recently announced that it would be proposing rules for the use of cannabinoids in pain relief that would be less restrictive than what exists today. And the Dallas Cowboys’  Jerry Jones, perhaps the best-known NFL owner, just last month proposed that the NFL dropped its ban on marijuana altogether.

Commissioner Goodell has pointed out that whatever else is true about marijuana, smoking it could be dangerous because of possible carcinogenic effects and the impurity of most “street” marijuana. Many state legislatures have taken the same position by banning the smoking of marijuana, and thereby permitting its consumption only by means of vapor or edible products. This underscores what we at GB Sciences believe to be the most important element of the eventual use of marijuana by NFL players, other athletes, and the world in general— the product will never be completely safe and efficacious, and therefore may well never be universally legalized, unless users can absolutely rely on the purity, safety, consistency, and efficacy of what they ingest.

The experience of NFL players dramatically illustrate the need for legalization of medicinal-grade cannabis. It works, and it’s certainly safer than opioid-based solutions, and possibly safer even than the commonplace overuse of commonplace NSAIDs. We believe the NFL should step up its efforts to get this important medicine in the hands of its players who need it, and therefore become an important part of the groundswell for the use of pure and safe cannabis products for pain management and so many other diseases.