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League, Union Should Embrace Marijuana Study For Pain Management

Katelyn Baker

Well-Known Member
In recent weeks, plenty of chatter has emerged regarding the potential benefits of marijuana use for pain management in football players. Ultimately, any action in this regard will require the NFL and NFL Players Association to do something that doesn't happen very often: Reach an agreement.

Years ago, the two sides agreed to make marijuana a banned substance. Unless and until that changes, any player who uses marijuana for any purpose runs the risk of a positive test and, after a sufficient number of positive tests, a suspension and, after a sufficient number of suspensions, a permanent banishment with the ability to apply for reinstatement after a year.

Subbing for Peter King of TheMMQB.com, former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer outlines the current plan for studying the potential benefits of a specific type of compound derived from marijuana. It's called Charlotte's Web, an extract of hemp that is high in CBD. Known technically as cannabidiol, Plummer explains that CBD is a "non-toxic, non-addictive, non-psychoactive naturally occurring in cannabis."

Plummer claims that CBD alleviated his joint pain and headaches. He also outlines the desired approach for determining whether CBD will help current players.

The NFL's position is that, under the labor laws, the union not the league has the power to provide access to players. The NFLPA, according to Plummer, seems to be inclined to consider giving access to the players.

If/when that happens (and due to the efforts of current players Eugene Monroe and Derrick Morgan), doctors at Johns Hopkins and Penn will be prepared to first to assess the compounds specific players are using for pain management and then administering CBD in order to "track and analyze their recovery time from concussions and injuries, how they heal after an injury and how they're mentally coping with the demands and rigors of an NFL season."

It's a great plan, but it still will violate the substance-abuse policy if players use cannabis products. The fact that CBD contains only "trace amounts" (per Plummer) of THC, the specific compound that drug testing detects, could make it easier for players to use CBD and not test positive.

Then there's the largely unspoken reality of substance-abuse testing. Unlike the PED policy, which subjects players to random tests at any point on the calendar, players have a clearly-defined window from late April to early August of when their annual substance-abuse test will be imposed. For players not in the program (where testing is more frequent), providing a clean sample in that once-per-year test amounts to a green light to use as much marijuana as they want. Unless they get arrested for marijuana possession or have a bag of it fall out of their letterman jackets during a visit to the league office, there will be no consequences.

The better approach would be for the league and the union to come to an agreement regarding the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Given the push-and-pull of labor negotiations, however, this could prompt the owners to sit back, fold their arms, and wait to see what the union will offer in order to make that happen. If the owners truly care about the health, safety, and welfare of players, they won't.

This would potentially be the ultimate win-win for management and labor, freeing players from the problems associated with traditional pain-killers (problems that currently are the league's problem, too) and giving players a way to deal with pain and recover from injury safely, effectively, and without risk of addiction.


News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: League, Union Should Embrace Marijuana Study For Pain Management
Author: Mike Florio
Contact: PFT
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Website: PFT
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