The NFL and marijuana have had a precarious relationship, but it is possible that medical marijuana can address one of the biggest problems facing football, and that is CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain injury that is often found in those with repeated head injuries. There are now studies that show medical marijuana can treat the symptoms of CTE and possibly slow the progression of the disease that has left so many incapacitated.Medical Daily is reporting that NFL players suffer residual brain injuries that often show up years after they retire from football. But the rules about medical marijuana need to change if players are going to get the help that they need.
"If cannabis is implemented and [the NFL] can lead the science on this, they can resolve this brain injury situation in a big way," said former NFL player Kyle Turley, the co-founder of Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, an organization that includes other outspoken retired players.
CTE has been found in 96 percent of the brains of NFL players that have been examined, and it has been found in high school and college players as well. Boston University now has the Boston University CTE Center because of the prevalence of this disorder.
"The NFL's policy against medical marijuana is stupid and counterproductive," said Dale Gieringer, the director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "There's no doubt NFL players would be better off with medical access to marijuana."Dr. Bonni Goldstein, who recommends medical marijuana for the treatment of pediatric seizure disorders, says that people need to get educated and realize that there is a difference between street pot and medical marijuana.
"Marijuana is not nearly as addictive as alcohol or even nicotine and caffeine for that matter," Goldstein told Medical Daily. "It makes no sense. We can no longer talk about medical marijuana as if it's the same as street pot. It's a challenging thing when there's still a stigma in the medical community."NBC New York has given the examples of NFL stars like Ken Stabler, Earl Morrall, and Junior Seau, who all struggled with CTE and how they could have been helped with medical marijuana. Stabler had degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head, as did Morrall, and Seau sadly took his life. Other players, like Frank Gifford, were able to grow old, but not without suffering symptoms.
"If cannabis is implemented and (the NFL) can lead the science on this, they can resolve this brain injury situation in a big way," Kyle Turley said.
If there is even a possibility that medical marijuana can help, then it at least deserves more research and consideration, but for now, medical marijuana is treated the same as the pot that is bought on a street corner.
"The NFL's policy against medical marijuana is stupid and counterproductive," said Dale Gieringer, the director of the California chapter of NORML, in an email that claimed the NFL out of touch with the laws of the state. "There's no doubt NFL players would be better off with medical access to marijuana."
But sadly, the NFL's biggest opponent in dealing with CTE and treatment is the NFL, namely Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, according to ESPN. Goodell is now having to address the erratic behavior of players like Johnny Manzel, who reportedly threatened to kill his girlfriend. But for now, the topic of CTE, it's daily impact on football, and possible treatment with medical marijuana does not seem terribly important to Goodell.
"I don't foresee a change in that policy clearly in the short term, but we'll continue to be in touch with our medical personnel," Goodell said.
Sadly, CTE is not going away, and although better policies are in place at the time of head injuries, there are many players out there who will be dealing with this going forward.
Do you think medical marijuana could be an effective CTE treatment?
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