NFL invests $1 million for cannabinoid research

Study cannabinoids for pain and sports
Written by Lena

Both the NFL and the players’ union (NFLPA) want to study the effects of cannabinoids on athletic performance in elite football players. A major goal is to explore the pain-relieving effects of cannabinoids such as CBD. The NFL is providing $1 million to fund up to five research studies.

Cannabinoids as alternatives to opiates

In cooperation with the players’ union, a committee has been set up to guide the use of cannabinoids for pain relief. Priority is to be given to finding alternatives to opiates and conventional painkillers, such as ibuprofen. Players often suffer from severe side effects with current treatments for pain.

With regard to elite athletes using CBD to relieve their pain, we want to make sure it is safe and effective to take.

Dr. Kevin Hill is co-chair of the committee

Criteria of the study

According to the US Professional Football League, the funding opportunity is intended to facilitate the following three lines of potential inquiry:

Pain: a social problem

NFL medical director Dr. Allen Sills expressed:

“This is really not an NFL issue or a sports issue. This is a societal issue, which is how can we better understand and treat pain and what are the alternatives that may be out there for treatment in addition to opioids which have long been used.”

“A means of masking pain and injury”

A study in Substance Abuse found that 52% of retired NFL players used opioids to stay on the field longer and continue playing despite pain or injury. 71% of these players met the criteria of abuse. Some retired NFL players have spoken out about their cannabis use during their active careers: As a means to mask pain and/or injury.

Pain serves a purpose; pain is there for a reason. And for football players in particular, they have to know their pain and know their body better than the average person if they’re going to perform at an optimum level. And for me, pain pills dulled my pain, I felt numb, I felt lethargic, I felt slow. And the same kind of strength that I had under my sober mind left me when I was under those pills. I felt worthless. Marijuana didn’t do that. It re-framed my pain. I could still feel it but in a much more bearable context.”

Interview with an ex-NFL player

New wage agreement reduces penalties for players

In the past, NFL players who tested positive for cannabis multiple times were suspended. However, this changed with the wage agreement that was passed a year ago. In the current agreement, penalties for players who test positive for cannabis have been reduced.



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