For a long time in the NFL, opioids and anti-inflammatories have been the script. But not cannabis. Some players use it at the risk of suspension anyway, and their lives are forever changed. However, under the mounting scientific and anecdotal evidence of CBD’s and cannabis’ therapeutic benefits, an increasing number of pro athletes are advocating for CBD and cannabis. And what’s more—some pretty major organizations are backing their play!
Wins for CBD in the Pro Sports Arena
In October 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that it was removing non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) from its list of 2018 banned substances. Shortly after that, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report acknowledging the medical benefits of CBD and that the compound doesn’t have the potential for abuse or adverse health effects.
Following suit, the World Cup in 2018 became the first professional sporting organization to allow the use of a cannabis derivative. If a player used CBD, he was not penalized.
About the time the World Cup was happening, Basketball’s BIG3 became the first professional sports league in the U.S. to allow athletes to take CBD.
Both the MLB and the NHL, while they do not officially allow CBD, are known for their tolerance of it and marijuana. In the last several years, the NCAA has relaxed its penalties for athletes testing positive for marijuana.
Because of all these recent changes of heart about cannabis and CBD, pro football players and their advocates are more hopeful than ever that the NFL will soon allow players to use CBD.
The NFL, CBD and Eugene Monroe’s Vow
“Whatever happens in terms of my professional football career, I will never stop pushing for the League to accept medical cannabis as a viable option for pain management.”
Among active NFL players, Monroe is the first to have spoken out about removing cannabis from the NFL’s banned substances. Before Monroe was released by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, he had already begun publicly calling out the NFL for testing players for marijuana use. Monroe argues that players should have a healthier alternative to the highly addictive opioids that are used extensively within the league.
He also cites that cannabis has known neuroprotective qualities that could be used to treat and prevent the already well-documented brain injuries and diseases associated with football. Monroe has donated tens of thousands of dollars to various research foundations and to campaigns like “When the Bright Lights Fade” that aims to promote CBD research for athletes.
Monroe made the decision to retire in 2016, citing concerns over the head trauma he had received during his seven-season career. He was only 29. But he continues to advocate for cannabis and CBD. He has a website dedicated to promoting marijuana research, especially as it relates to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is the degenerative brain disease brought on by repetitive brain trauma affecting many NFL players.
Eugene Monroe is now 100% pharmaceutical free and managing his daily pain with medical cannabis.
Derrick Morgan—Following Monroe’s Lead with CBD
Derrick Morgan, NFL linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, recently openly admitted that he uses CBD as a regular part of his training program. But more than just using it to prevent injury to his brain, he is also an active advocate for CBD use for athletes and medical cannabis research.
In June 2016, Morgan joined Eugen Monroe in an interview with Katie Couric. The two medical cannabis advocates spoke about their mission to change the NFL’s stance on cannabis as a banned substance. The cannabis-promoting pair also became founding members of an NFL Players Association committee to study concerns of pain management among players, including the use of cannabis as treatment.
Additionally, Morgan is a board member of Athletes for Care, a group that promotes health and safety for athletes, including the use of medical cannabis.
Both Are Members of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation
From the organization’s mission statement:
“Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) serves as a voice for physicians who believe that cannabis prohibition has failed and that the misuse of cannabis should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one. … Through the education of physicians and the public, DFCR supports the legalization and effective regulation of cannabis in the United States and around the world.”
- treat cannabis like alcohol under the Policy
- consider medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain management
- support promising research into potential neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids
- play a leading role in addressing the overprescription of opioids across the league
Both Monroe and Morgan were signatories on that letter. They are co-chairs for the DFCR steering committee, and Monroe serves as their Athletics Ambassador.
Gathering Momentum for Athletes and CBD
These gentlemen have been joined by many other current and ex-players in their mission to promote CBD and cannabis for athletes, including Jim McMahon, Jake Plummer, Kyle Turley, Nate Jackson, Eben Britton, Leonard Marshall, Marvin Washington, Ricky Williams, and Christian Okoye.
Keep an eye out for the future post about the amazing efforts of current and former NFL players to bring CBD—a healthier therapeutic alternative to opioids—to the NFL league. The NFL is more disproportionate than any other professional league in its suspensions for marijuana use.
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