The New York Daily News published an interview with former Giants anchor Leonard Marshall.
Leonard suffers from chronic pain due to injuries he accumulated over 11 seasons playing for the NFL and winning two Super Bowls. He now coaches high school kids.
In 2013 he was diagnosed with signs of the brain-eating disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The former football star starts his day with a dose of CBD (non-psychoactive cannabis oil). He takes the cannabidiol in a vaporizer through the day to avoid crippling headaches caused by his traumatic brain injuries.
He explains it is a safe and effective alternative to the highly addictive and dangerous painkillers players pass around in NFL locker rooms.
It is the headaches and migraine that CBD has really helped for. He says that relief isn’t instant, but he begins to feel an improvement after several minutes.
NFL drug test prevents players from using medical marijuana
As the league prepare for this year’s season, commissioner Goodell is being pressured to embrace cannabis. The two major threats faced by the $13 billion-a-year league are none other than painkiller abuse and concussion.
Marshall is part of a movement who wants the NFL to remove marijuana from the banned substance list. The movement is led by former football players who are looking for support in funding cannabis as an alternative to addictive painkillers and as treatment for brain injuries that have caused stars like Junior Seau and Dave Duerson to commit suicide.
Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan is the only active NLF player publicly advocating cannabidiol for pain. He is asking for research, as it would give players an alternative option as they play a violent game with a 100% injury rate. “The more options we have for our health the better”. He says.
Dr. Douglas Smith, a professor of brain surgery and the director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania says indications of medicinal uses for CBD are good, but it is just the proof that is lacking.
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Can CBD protect athletes from brain injury?
Supporters of CBD also suggest it can protect athletes from concussion and prevent CTE caused by repeated blows to the head. They say that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services holds a patent that suggests compounds in cannabis may limit damage from traumatic brain injuries.
Realm of Caring executive director Heather Jackson notes that the NFL has spent $100million on research on concussion but not a single dollar on a known neuro-protectant in the form of CBD.
League officials were not available for interviews, but are said to have contacted the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins researchers involved in Realm of Caring who funded studies on cannabis’s effect on pain, brain injuries and quality of life with the help of former and current players.
Marcel Bonn-Miller of the Penn School of Medicine commented that fact-finding on the part of NFL shows they are taking players’ recommendations seriously and want to gather scientific proof.
In 2014 the policy raised the amount of marijuana metabolite needed to trigger a positive drug test. Football sources say the union has expressed interest in the potential of cannabis.
Despite the interest, there is little hope that the NFL and its unions will embrace marijuana as the answer to the health and safety risk of players. Cannabis is still schedule 1 and the NFL won’t jeopardize fans and sponsors that include beer and pharmaceutical companies by taking a controversial stand on a social issue.
In the United States, marijuana is a controlled substance and is classified as a Schedule I agent (a drug with a high potential for abuse, and no currently accepted medical use).
The NFL’s 29-year-old Eugene Monroe, ‘terrified’ by the brain damage threat, retired earlier this year. He says that he doesn’t see much likelihood of a policy change in the near future despite mounting pressure from a number of quarters.
The weed stigma is dissolving fast.
The stigma around marijuana is disappearing fast, and so are Leonard Marshall’s headaches after six months of using cannabidiol for pain. He claims his quality of life has improved tremendously because of the CBD oil he vaporizes.