Big name sports stars have been bringing cannabis into the mainstream. Now it looks like leagues are ready to start taking steps in the right direction. Here’s what’s happening in the NFL and NHL today…
The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is underway, and the nation is turning its eyes towards the road to the Final Four and dreams of a perfect bracket.
So it feels like the perfect time to talk about something that has long been verboten in the wide world of sports: cannabis.
As a federally illicit substance, marijuana has long been banned in both collegiate and professional sports, and athletes caught using it have faced suspensions on par with “doping” and performance enhancing drugs. All-stars have fallen from grace from the mere association with cannabis.
But the tides are turning.
Former University of Connecticut Husky and Portland Trail Blazer Cliff Robinson was suspended for 11 games over the course of an NBA career spanning from 1989 to 2007 for violating the league’s drug policy.
Fast forward to today, and Robinson is an advocate for cannabis reform and is using his “Uncle Cliffy” nickname for a sports-focused cannabis brand.
Of course, long-time Cannabis Profits Daily readers already know that athletes didn’t need to have any association with marijuana during their careers to throw their hats into this arena today.
Former Chicago Bear and Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon called medical marijuana “a godsend” in his struggles with dementia, depression, memory loss, and speech problems, among other concussion-caused ailments.
And three-time Super Bowl MVP Joe Montana, the San Francisco 49er great with a squeaky-clean image, announced an investment in a vertically integrated “seed to sale” cannabis company in the Bay Area earlier this year.
These sports stars represent an ever-growing number of athletes who are part of an even bigger movement to normalize cannabis and strip it of its taboo. And as more major influences continue to legitimize marijuana, the markets will explode.
We’re already seeing the next step in that process of bringing the industry into the mainstream, as leagues themselves begin to accept the legitimacy of cannabis.
The Need for a Sensible Policy
League sources confirm that the National Football League is prepared to make major concessions to its substance abuse policy as it relates to cannabis in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement – a labor agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). The current agreement is scheduled to expire in 2021.
In January, Commissioner Roger Goodell said he spoke with the NFLPA about the league’s marijuana policy, but he didn’t offer any update at the time.
Now it seems that those talks may have opened the door to serious considerations about a sensible approach to the NFL’s substance abuse policy. It is senseless to put players who face abnormally high injury rates in danger of falling to an opioid epidemic that’s currently at an all-time high.
Unfortunately, retired Miami Dolphin Larry Chester knows about these dangers all too well. After a seven-season career left him in chronic pain, he was in serious need of treatment. “I was eating opioids in some search of relief, and I was not finding it,” he said in an interview. “I lashed out on my children unnecessarily, lashed out on my wife – I even lashed out at people at the grocery store.”
Medicinal cannabis finally allowed Chester to break his opioid dependency, and he credits it with saving his life.
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The NFL has a responsibility to prevent its players from falling victim to this epidemic, and an update to the policy should allow for the medicinal use of cannabis, at a minimum.
It would be even better if the NFL took a page out of the National Hockey League‘s book. The NHL does not dole out any penalties or suspensions for positive cannabis tests.
Perhaps it’s these differing league attitudes towards cannabis that has made the NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA) such a perfect target for medical marijuana studies.
A New Study Offers Hope
Earlier this month, Canopy Growth Corp. (NYSE: CGC) announced a clinical research partnership with the NHLAA to investigate the use of cannabinoids as treatments for post-concussion neurological diseases in former NHL players.
The research will consist of 100 former NHL players in a randomized double-blind study in which half will receive CBD (yet more proof that 2019 is “The Year of CBD”), and the other half will receive a placebo. Researchers will monitor the players for signs of improvement in their conditions over the course of one year.
A significant number of professional hockey players develop concussion-related impairments, ranging from intense headaches and migraines to depression, PTSD, and progressive dementia from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). As with NFL players, the risk of opioid addiction is high, so the importance of this study is evident.
“This study offers alumni the promise of help and hope,” said Glenn Healy, Executive Director of the NHLAA, “and we are excited to participate in what could become a true game-changer in allowing these professional athletes to finish strong.”
This is a good opportunity to remember that, while the potential to make a fortune in this industry is unlike anything we’ve ever seen, we’re also taking part in a movement with the ability to change millions of people’s lives for the better.
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4 responses to “Growing League Acceptance in Professional Sports”
March 20 2019