The NFL is awarding one million dollars in research to two teams of medical researchers to study the effects of cannabinoids on pain management and neuroprotection from concussions, per ESPN. The selection out of 106 proposals by the NFL was The medical teams from the University of California San Diego and the University of Regina in Canada.
“We’re always interested in trying to improve our approach and our treatment for acute and chronic pain in NFL players. We always want to make sure that our players are receiving the most up-to-date medical consensus. Especially, around any of these treatments,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills told The Associated Press. “So, our burden of proof is really high for NFL players. Anytime we want to introduce a new therapy, we have to understand how that decision might impact their well-being and their performance. We know there’s been a lot of interest in this area. However, we did not feel like there was a lot of great solid research on the benefits of marijuana. The CBD, and treating acute and chronic pain. So, that’s why we wanted to try to contribute to the body of science in this area.”
The NFL has optimistic hopes going forward
The director of addiction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr.Kevin Hill explains why there hasn’t been much research on the topic. Not to mention, Dr.Hill is a preeminent cannabis researcher and author. He’s also the co-chair of the NFL-NFLPA Joint Pain Management Committee.
“One reason is the [DEA] scheduling of cannabis makes it harder to do this research, but the main reason is that stakeholders really aren’t interested in advancing the science,” Hill told the AP. “You have states and companies that are making a lot of money selling cannabis products, selling CBD products right now. So they don’t feel the need to prove the efficacy of these products, and millions of people are using them. So that’s the predicament that we’re in as health care professionals or organizations that really care about the health and safety of our constituents.”
“We really want to know, do they work? And every day I meet with patients who are interested in cannabinoids. It’s the same thing — we really don’t know the answers to that. So it becomes a very complicated risk/benefit discussion. So I’m thrilled to be a part of something that actually is going to get toward finding some answers. Hopefully, to the questions that everybody’s been talking about for years.”
Details of the research
The one million dollar research grant is a progressive move to better understand and improve the pain management of their current players. Many NFL players over the years have inquired about the benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids. Many former players are becoming more and more involved in the medical cannabis business. They’ve either started their own companies, invested in other companies, or become the ambassadors of these companies.
“We’ve heard from the teams, from the medical staffs, from the players loud and clear that they’re interested in cannabis and cannabinoids, and so we wanted to do something that would advance the science in this area so that we could have better-informed conversations with them,” Hill said.
“I also want to emphasize that this is the first step here. The NFL has done great research in other areas: concussions, musculoskeletal injuries, etc. Our limits do not stop at just cannabinoids. We’re interested in figuring out, are there ways that we can treat pain better? And so we’re going to use this and look at this process and see if there’s a way that we can improve this process, but continue to try to advance the science in the interest of players’ health and safety.”