NFL Cannabis Policy Shift Toward Embracing CBD Research For Tackling Concussions And Pain

The NFL’s policy on cannabis has undergone changes in recent years, with important implications for players and the league as a whole.

While Travis Kelce, the star tight end of the Kansas City Chiefsestimates that between 50% to 80% of all NFL players partake in its use, the league is slowly relaxing its stance on marijuana.

Players now face reduced penalties for testing positive for marijuana after rules were amended in 2021 that obliged players to undergo one weed test per year at the start of training camp, although cannabis testing is still a part of the league’s policy.

NFL Joining Cannabis Research Efforts

This past summer, the NFL and its players’ union announced they were joining together to fund two research grants worth over $500,000 each to fund independent studies on the therapeutic benefits of CBD (cannabinoids) as a pain treatment alternative to opioids for players with concussions. In February 2022, the NFL awarded $1 million in a grant to two teams of medical researchers to study the effects of CBD on pain management and neuroprotection from concussion among elite football players.

How Common Are Concussions Among Football Players?

Not to be a Debbie Downer while the NFL playoffs are underway, but brain injuries in football account for 65% to 95% of all fatalities, according to the Brain Injury Research Institute. Football injuries associated with the brain occur at the rate of one in every five-and-a-half games. 

How Can CBD Help?

Researchers from the University of Regina, recipients of $500,000 of the NFL’s 2022 grant, aim to find out.  

Following a concussion, the brain undergoes complex chemical maneuvers to repair itself. While this process is crucial, it can sometimes lead to unwanted inflammation. That’s where CBD, a compound found in cannabis, offers a helping hand.

“We know that CBD is anti-inflammatory,” Dr. Patrick Neary, who is leading the University of Regine study, said, according to CBC News. “So, it can help to reduce the inflammation while still allowing the brain to recover from those good chemicals that are coming in.”

Photo courtesy of El Planteo

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