NFL Players Tackle Negative Stigma Of Medical Cannabis

The NFL tried to ignore the topic of concussions, and now they are trying to do the same with medical cannabis. If you were not already familiar, the NFL for years ignored the reality that players were suffering concussions, and that those concussions are harmful to their physical and mental health in both the short and long term. Have you seen the movie Concussion, or the countless documentaries discussing CTE? It would seem like common sense that repeated blows to the head would cause brain damage in the long-term, but the NFL staunchly refused to accept this theory even when faced with sound scientific evidence. It took years of lobbying from all levels of society to get the NFL to enact protocols and acknowledge the link between head trauma and CTE. The NFL now has protocols in place during games to identify players who have been concussed, and treat these otherwise physically field-ready players as if they were injured, and not allow them to return to play. Players take hits not just to the head, but all over their bodies, making football a painful sport to play. Most couch-mounted football fans are not really able to grasp both the amount of pain, and the amount of painkillers on a football field during a game.

Eugene Monroe recently authored an essay on the topic of pain in the game of football, and to urge the NFL to take a fresh look at medical cannabis. In his own words he summed up football simply as “football is pain.” Another NFL player Nate Jackson was interviewed by Leafly and echoed the same, speaking to the fact that pain is part of the culture and “football guys are tough guys. They don’t tell you when they’re hurt. The guys who make it the furthest are the ones who endure it the best. That’s the culture. To move up the ladder, you don’t show pain.” Seems to me like a recipe for disaster to combine a sport which causes great amounts of pain with highly addictive painkillers.

If you are familiar with medical cannabis, then you already know it would be a great way for players to relieve pain, reduce opioid consumption, and hopefully prevent the damage of CTE from destroying their brains. Cannabinoids have been proven to act as a neuroprotectant, as all US citizens share in US Patent 6630507. This patent is specifically for “[…]cannabinoids [which] are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma[…].” Currently players are only handed means to dull their pain, with no measures being taken to prevent CTE in the long term. Monroe talks in his essay about how players line up prior to games and receive painkillers in a line called the “T Train”, which is “[…]nothing more than a bunch of really large guys waiting to pull their pants down to get shot in the butt with Toradol, a powerful painkiller that will help them make it through the game and its aftermath.” Ironically the same drugs which dull their pain will likely will prevent the natural cycle of life, and their ability to feel the pain from a new injury and stop playing.

Monroe put his money behind his mouth and donated $80,000 to researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania to study medical marijuana for NFL players. The NFL was uncharacteristically cordial with the researchers, and even requested a call to discuss the research. Marcel Bonn-Miller, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania was interviewed by The Washington Post and described the NFL participants as “[…]definitely showing genuine curiosity, and they are definitely not throwing up roadblocks.” Seems more to me like a public gesture than a real interest in supporting research. A University of Michigan professor named Daniel Clauw, who does researching comparing opiates to cannabis, was quoted in the same article attempting to provide a fresh perspective on cannabis, explaining “you put the two next to each other, and there really is no debate which is more effective to treat pain. You would go the cannabinoid route instead of the opiate route.” Chicago’s own Super Bowl winner Jim McMahon has been a long time advocate for medical cannabis. He spoke at a conference in New York recently on the benevolence of cannabis as compared to opiates, as there are “hundreds of thousands of people are dying from [painkillers] and there’s not one case of people dying from the hemp plant.”

Advocating for medical cannabis might be a risky move, as some reports have opined that Monroe was released by the Ravens as a direct result of his public medical cannabis crusade. This old coach was quoted on his feelings about Monroe’s advocacy, pseudo-threateningly drawing a line in the metaphorical sand saying, “I promise you, he does not speak for the organization.” That is about the farthest you could get from being supportive. Others have tried to explain his exit from the team due to more legitimate reasons. To most the influence that his advocacy had on the team’s decision would be an easy correlation, as many still know the bitterly negative stigma surrounding cannabis from first-hand experience. Monroe has inspired more players to join the medical cannabis movement, including Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan. I know that we are all hopeful for the day when the NFL openly admits there are other options for chronic pain than just opiates, and that there is something to be done today to prevent cases of CTE in the future.

Do you think that the NFL should support Eugene Monroe and research into using cannabinoids to treat chronic pain, and prevent and treat CTE? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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Colorado Dispensary Seeks Denver Broncos Stadium Sponsorship

Could the United Center one day be called the Cresco Center? Probably not, but our pipe dream could be more of a reality than we ever would have imagined.

Native Roots, one of Colorado’s largest dispensary chains, has sparked the conversation between legal cannabis and sports sponsorships after declaring its desire to sponsor the Broncos’ famed Mile High Stadium. The stadium currently receives annual sponsorship money of $6 million from Sports Authority, a prominent Colorado brand that currently faces bankruptcy.

The Broncos have only stated that the organization and Sports Authority are “looking for a resolution before the next payment is due” and did not mention if that resolution involved a new sponsor for Sports Authority Field at Mile High. While Native Roots isn’t the only local company that would jump at such a marketing opportunity, it’s the most vocal and controversial potential partner for the Denver Broncos.

With 14 locations under the company’s belt, Native Roots and founder Rhett Jordan appear both capable and confident about the prospective sponsorship that appears to be more than just a wry publicity play. Jordan told The Denver Channel that

“No, this is not an April Fools’ joke — we have a ton of pride in the Broncos, we’re a large corporation in Colorado just like a Coors Light or a Sports Authority.”

Like a Coors Light or Sports Authority, Native Roots represents an evolving Colorado brand. Unlike Coors Light or Sports Authority, Native Roots also represents the nation’s hottest and most taboo industry that has never gone here before.

Legal and medical marijuana are a rising tide in America, but that rising tide has yet to result in local television commercials, let alone a major stadium sponsorship for the reigning Super Bowl champions. There’s little chance the Broncos organization nor the NFL would go for this, yet it’s still fun to consider the possibility.

At north of $6 billion a year now, legal cannabis is already such big business and it’s big business that will continue to grow at a steady rate. The marijuana industry is one without an uncertain future or descending sales.

People will always need medical marijuana for aches and pains, and that makes marijuana companies potential suitors for major brands. The sports industry may not be the first industry to bite on cannabis dollars, but other industries like music, video games, and food also make sensible partners.


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