President Barack Obama was joined on Saturday by rapper Mackelmore as they called on Congress to provide more funding for drug addiction recovery and opioid abuse treatment. And while most health-related conversations about the NFL tend to be centered on concussions and long-term brain injury, one player from the Baltimore Ravens has become very vocal in his efforts to convince the NFL and Commissioner Roger Gooddell to end drug screening for marijuana in the NFL, so that players have a safe alternative to the highly-addictive — and commonly prescribed — opioids.
As the federal government eases up on prosecution, and state after state legalizes medicinal cannabis for their residents, more and more members of the NFL Players Association would have access to medical weed. Because the League tests for marijuana and punishes those who are found to be using, many players use opioids prescribed by team physicians instead. Like many medical experts, Eugene Monroe of the Baltimore Ravens believes that using marijuana to treat chronic pain may be a safer alternative to the highly-addictive and potentially harmful drugs like Hydrocodone or Oxycodone.
And, for the record, Eugene doesn’t smoke pot.
The Dangers Of Opioids
As the New York Times reports, Monroe believes the research that says marijuana is safer than opioids when treating the kinds of chronic aches and pains commonly suffered by active NFL players.
“We now know that [opioids] are not as safe as doctors thought, causing higher rates of addition–causing death all around our country. And we have cannabis, which is far healthier, far less addictive and, quite frankly, can be better in managing pain.”
President Obama invited Mackelmore to speak on the subject, as the Grammy Award-winning artist has been very open about his personal struggles with alcohol and drug addiction in the past.
As the Seattle Times noted, the rapper was first arrested at the age of 15, and did time in rehab 8 years ago.
“Addiction is like any other disease. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care what color you are, whether you’re a guy or a girl, rich or poor, whether you live in the inner city, a suburb, or rural America… It can happen to any of us.”
No active NFL players have gone on record in support of Eugene’s comments directed toward the NFL commissioner. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti came out in support of Monroe’s suggestion that the NFL invest in further research. Coach John Harbaugh, however, clarified that Monroe “does not speak for the team.”
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Retired NFL Players & Medical Marijuana
No longer under the scrutiny of the NFL, many former football players have turned to medicinal pot to help treat such common ailments among the ex-NFL community as traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, and depression. Rather than risking addiction and potentially harmful overdoses, many of them are thankful for access to medical cannabis. As The Daily Beast reports, a group of 30 ex-NFL players have volunteered for a study to help determine the effectiveness of using medical marijuana to treat their chronic pain and depression.
Almost half of retired NFL players report struggles with chronic pain and about 40 percent of retired football players deal with some level of depression. Both ailments can be treated by habit forming pharmaceuticals or medical marijuana.
[Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images]