There’s no doubt about it – football players take hits for a living. Over and over again. “You’re always kind of battling with something,” states Nate Jackson of the Denver Broncos. After spending six seasons playing tight end, his job has left him with a lifetime of football-related injuries.
In order to get players back on the field after an injury, a cocktail of pain pills and anti-inflammatory injections are typically prescribed. Feeling no pain, players often return to the field before the injury is healed, thus causing more damage.
“A 2011 study by researchers at Washington University in St Louis found that former NFL players were four times more likely to abuse prescription painkillers than the general population. And more than seven in 10 players who used pain medications during their playing days went on to abuse them, though former offensive tackle Kyle Turley said he thinks that number is actually closer to 90%.”
Turley and Jackson are part of a group of former NFL players trying to fight the problem of prescription drug abuse among their colleagues by lobbying the NFL to change its policy against medical marijuana. Because pharmaceutical painkillers have now caused more deaths in the United States than heroin and cocaine combined and are extremely easy to get hooked on, these players would like the NFL to take a closer look at using cannabis-based treatments. There are over 80 scientific studies proving that the ingredient in marijuana is a powerful pain reliever WITHOUT the possibility of addiction and that no one on record has ever died from using it medicinally. Best of all, there are absolutely no side effects.
A bio-pharmaceutical company called KannaLife Sciences recently received the go-ahead from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a drug to treat concussions using components of the marijuana plant. This will be a great benefit to the pro-football community.
Controversially, the issue arises of how to bring marijuana into use as a pain reliever without condoning it as a recreational drug. Some players admit to lighting up before a big game to relieve anxiety and hope to play relaxed and focused, while others admit to using it after a game to unwind. Drug testing for cannabis use is common practice in the NFL to prevent abuse. If players are given pain-reliving cannabis pills it will show up on the drug test. Right now, some are using the substance illegally just for the pain-relieving aspects because they don’t want to suffer from the side effects of powerful pain-relieving drugs or run the chance of getting hooked on them.
“The NFL’s conundrum is figuring a graceful way to keep tabs on those who use marijuana recklessly — or recreationally — while giving others a legitimate form of pain relief.” Eddie Pells, AP