The National Football League currently bans all use of marijuana, even though it is legal for recreational use in 10 states and medical use in 33. However, that could change in the coming years as both the league and its players want to know about pain management with marijuana.
NFL officials and representatives of the NFL players union have reached an agreement to study the potential uses of marijuana for pain management, including the use of CBD products. They already have agreed to form committees to overview the issue. The new deal with the players’ union is set to go into effect in 2020.
Pain is something every NFL player deals with, but usually, they use opioids to manage it. Many former players have been calling for the NFL to change that situation, pointing out the potential of pain management with marijuana.
Pain Management in the NFL
It goes without saying that NFL players deal with pain. Just watch any game for more than five minutes.
However, the NFL does not have a uniform policy on how pain medications are handled. Each team has its own policy. A new Joint Pain Management Committee, with medical experts appointed by both the NFL and the players’ union, will “create uniform practices and policies for clubs regarding the pain management and use of prescription medications in addition to research regarding alternative methods,’ according to the NFL.
One of these alternative methods could include marijuana. Many former NFL players, including Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Joe Montana, have been vocal supporters of the NFL researching whether cannabis can work well with managing pain.
Montana has gone as far as to put money into the cannabis industry through his investment firm. He said he did so out of hope that marijuana “can provide relief to many people and can make a serious impact on opioid use or addiction,” according to ESPN.
Danger of Opioids
The abuse of opioids by players has become a high-profile issue.
For example, the Boston Globe obtained the recordings of phone calls made from jail by the late Adrian Hernandez, a former player for the New England Patriots. He reportedly talked with other former players on the phone about taking opioids such as Vicodin and Percocet, as well as asking for injections of Toradol, “a drug so powerful it is usually administered after surgery,” according to the Globe.
The New York Times also recently published an article about NFL players taking opioids during their playing days, and how they continued to battle addiction after they retired. Among them were well-known players such former Houston Oiler Earl Campbell.
Against this backdrop, the league’s agreement with the players to study alternative forms of medication, including the potential of pain management with marijuana, makes sense.
Before the new deal is in place, both the league and players agreed that before the start of the 2019 season, every team must appoint a Pain Management Specialist who will oversee how prescription drugs are given to players through club doctors and outside physicians.