There could be big changes in the works as far as how the NFL treats medical marijuana – which is currently in line with the federal government’s ban, claiming it to be as dangerous as heroin. It has been a subject that has been increasingly brought up, most notably by retired NFL players and even a few current players, who have decided to turn to medical cannabis to manage their pain (among other medical conditions), rather than addictive opiates which are readily prescribed for players.
Retired player Kyle Turley played in the league for nine years – and after years of using opiates to manage pain, by the time he retired he was addicted to multiple different prescription drugs including Vicodin and Morphine. Turley released a video as a part of the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition (which he helped to start) where he displayed each one of the prescription medications he had been on – Vicodin, Flexeril, Percocet, Vioxx and Morphine – and then showed a single small cannabis bud, which he said was more than enough to provide the relief he needed.
“When I was playing, if you were on the road, you’d get on the plane home and there would be two beers in the seat pocket in front of you and the trainers were coming down the aisle with painkillers and muscle relaxers,” said Kyle Turley, a nine-year veteran who retired in 2007. “And we were supposed to drive home from the airport? Then they blame us for our addictions.”
After turning to medical marijuana, he helped to form the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition and partnered with the nonprofit group Doctors for Cannabis Regulation to help convince the NFL to take a second look at the possibility of medical marijuana as a safer alternative. Petitioning the league to consider the herbal alternative seems to be having somewhat positive results as the NFL has said that they will be looking into medical marijuana, as well as other (not mentioned) safer alternatives to opioid painkillers.
In the end, Turley and other retired players and doctors who have been working towards this change do understand that the NFL could have trouble coming to a decision because of the federal government’s stance on cannabis. However, their main issue is the fact that they are so readily willing to hand out prescription painkillers that have been proven to be dangerous and deadly, but they shy away from a natural alternative that has been proven again and again to be safer.
Looking into medical marijuana as an alternative for NFL players is important – it could be beneficial to both current and retired players and it is certainly safer than simply handing out potentially addictive pills like candy.
As Chief Medical Officer at HelloMD, the leading digital site for health and wellness relating to cannabis, I am acutely aware of this issue. We produced a 10 minute film with Ryan McBean, another ex-NFL player highlighting this issue. It was premiered at the prestigious Mill Valley Film Festival this summer. The YouTube link is here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcBN5JHxX9A
Perry Solomon, MD
Chief Medical Office