Because cannabis remains illegal in many states where the NFL operates, players rely on pharmaceuticals to manage pain and the effects of head trauma—frequently with disastrous consequences.
Experts suggest that legalizing medicinal marijuana for NFL athletes may help holistically promoting cognitive function, which can be significantly damaged by repeated concussions.
“In 2013, Professor Yosef Sarne of Tel Aviv University’s Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine published research indicating that “even extremely low doses of THC [tetrahydrocannabinol]—around 1,000 to 10,000 times less than that in a conventional marijuana cigarette —administered over a wide window of one to seven days before or one to three days after injury can jumpstart biochemical processes which protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function over time.”
Still, the league has not acknowledged the medicinal benefits of marijuana even though there seems to be an increasing need for players to have access to holistic treatments.
“On Tuesday, the news came out that former Giants safety Tyler Sash, who died at the age of 27 last September due to an accidental overdose of painkillers, was diagnosed with CTE. Might medical marijuana have helped him with both issues—the head trauma that marked the latter parts of his life, and the pain that predicated the need for all those pills? We don’t know yet. The NFL doesn’t seem to want to be proactive on this issue, and it’s too late for Sash and those like him.”
Read the full study published in the journal Experimental Brain Research, and titled “Long-term behavioral and biochemical effects of an ultra-low dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): neuroprotection and ERK signaling.”