Former NFL players embrace medical marijuana to treat career injuries

Founders of the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition

Founders of the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition

I will be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about the sport that Americans call football. I live with a native Brit and we watch football...the sport that Americans call soccer. I have always found American football, as we call it, to be an incredibly brutal sport, especially when head injuries are involved, which seems to happen often. When the heads of two 300 lb players try to occupy the same space at the same time, it is not a pretty sight and then there is the dreadful noise when their helmets make contact. Just awful. I've stopped watching it and I am very glad my teenage son has absolutely no interest in playing the game.

For years, the NFL management disavowed any knowledge of the serious head injuries, now known as Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), that the majority of players sustained during their careers. Repeated concussions was an accepted part of play; players were given pain killers and sent right back on the field after a concussion instead of removing them from the game for several weeks if not months. Painful injections of anti-inflammatory drugs with horrible side effects was the norm to treat torn or injured muscles. As a result, the NFL legacy is that of hundreds of very damaged former players suffering with chronic pain, depression, CTE, and a high suicide rate.

The NFL has always maintained a very strict anti-cannabis policy as a treatment option. Jim McMahon famously "came out" as a cannabis user, which helps control his chronic pain and allowed him to wean off dangerous opioids. He and his girlfriend did an interview about his experience as an NFL player which was featured in Sports Illustrated in September, 2012. At one point in his life, he was so damaged from multiple, untreated concussions that he didn't know where he was. He was diagnosed with early onset dementia, due to the 4 concussions he sustained during his career. He also broke his neck, which he was unaware of until years later.

I see an article about Eugene Monroe of the Baltimore Ravens donating big money to cannabis research...more about that in another post...and that leads me to the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, the brain child of Kyle Turley, who played for 3 NFL teams and retired in 2007 due to serious injuries. At age 34, his body is battered and he can no longer play.

Kyle Turley, is diagnosed with CTE, becomes addicted to opioids with constant suicidal thoughts and decides to try cannabis before he succeeds. When he discovers that cannabis gave him his life back, he starts the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition along with Attorney Michael Cindrich, cannabis attorney and Executive Director of Sand Diego NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), and investment banker, Matthew Bucciero. He is joined by fellow ex-players Ricky Williams, Nate Jackson, Marvin Washington and Jim McMahon to raise awareness of the mission of the organization which is the following:

Gridiron Cannabis Coalition is dedicated to the advancement of cannabis as a treatment for injuries and illnesses that athletes, specifically football players, endure as a result of their careers.

Take a look at their website and click on the Blog link. There are some fascinating videos by Nate Jackson talking about his career injuries and the NFL drug policy, and by Ricky Williams talking about his medical cannabis use.

Kyel Turley talking about his NFL career....heartbreaking

This alone is very exciting news. As I read further, I am taken to another link about a new study where 30 ex-NFL players will participate in a medical cannabis study to treat chronic pain and depression. They will self-report their results. Constance Therapeutics, a whole plant cannabis extracts company in California, will supply the extracts and oil for this study. Some of the other players involved in the study include Eddie Lee Williams, Kyle Kingsbury and Toi Cook...I've never heard of any of them, but you probably have.

I would imagine that the results of the study will be very positive. I will keep you updated when the results are in. Let's hope that all of this cannabis advocacy happening here and worldwide will change the minds of the NFL management who has a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy about medical cannabis use. I'm not holding my breath...

The NFL has loosened its policy on medical cannabis use by its players, but should it be considered a treatment option for injuries? I always love to hear your thoughts and comments.

I've written a series of posts about medical marijuana. If you want to read more you can click on the "Medical Marijuana" tag at the top of my page.

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