Multiple activists and advocacy groups have been calling on the NFL to loosen their rules regarding medical marijuana, claiming that it could be the key to preventing the sports extinction. A bold claim, no doubt, but corroborated by lists of former NFL stars who have succumbed to neurodegenerative diseases, like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Some of the most notable players are Oakland Raiders Quarterback Ken Stabler, Miami Dolphins Quarterback Earl Morral, New York Giants Running Back Frank Gifford, and San Diego Chargers Linebacker Junior Seau. All four of these players were diagnosed with CTE while they were still alive. Gifford lived well into old age, but Seau is tragically remembered as one who took his own life.
CTE is linked to concussive events of any size, not just head trauma associated with football. In fact, someone can get CTE from something as simple as falling off a bicycle. People who develop CTE can experience cognitive ailments like impaired judgement, progressive dementia, and memory loss.
Activists like former NFL players Kyle Turley and Ricky Williams are pushing for extensive and lenient policy changes regarding medical marijuana use in the NFL.
“If cannabis is implemented and the NFL can lead the science on this, they can resolve this brain injury situation in a big way,” says Turley.
Turley ended his nine year career in the NFL when he was diagnosed with CTE, and Williams is very open about his personal use of cannabis during his tenure in the league. Other players like Marvin Washington have jumped into the debate about CTE and CTE awareness as well.
Washington began his own movement, fundraising campaign, and has appeared on multiple media appearances like FOX News, Cannabis Frontier, and ESPN’s Outside the Lines to discuss. Specifically, he talks about how studies conducted on the non psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) suggest it can have positive, therapeutic benefits.
In fact, the United States Government National Institutes of Health has a patent entitled “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants“, which documents how cannabinoids like CBD can effectively protect against neurodegenerative diseases like CTE.
“If we want to save football, then we’ve got to start looking at solutions, not just count concussions,” says Turley. “Cannabis is that potential savior.”
According to Turley, more than 70 percent of NFL players use cannabis because they know it works. Further, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) brings up a valid point that, if 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, it’s odd that the NFL won’t permit it for medical use.
“The NFL’s policy against medical marijuana is stupid and counterproductive,” says NORML California chapter Director Dale Gieringer. “There’s no doubt NFL players would be better off with medical access to marijuana.”
If this is something you’re passionate about, consider donating to Washington’s CTE awareness campaign or #ShowYourGreen on your social media pages. There’s a lot of research out there about medical marijuana and CBD, and we encourage you to read and learn as much as possible so that we can help end the stigma surrounding this plant.