Weed and the NFL: THC or CTE

Doctors and scientists have successfully proven the benefits of medicinal marijuana, even showing that cannabis has the propensity to replace the dangerous and addictive painkillers that NFL players have been relying on for years.

Over the last several years, the NFL has received major backlash from retired players. These retirees have had to deal with the repercussions of playing professional football for years now, as the hits and workout load have taken their toll. To remedy the pain and physical ailments, the NFL allows players to use dangerous and addictive painkillers, but they strictly ban marijuana.

Toradol is one of the many “miracle” drugs that the NFL has deemed safe for player use. This injection eases pain from almost any injury and allows the players to stay on the field. Unfortunately, the many side effects of this drug have proven to outweigh the temporary pain relief. Many players experience severe kidney problems from the repetitive use of the opioid, which has led some to fight for the use of marijuana.

According to Martellus Bennett, 89% of the NFL uses marijuana. Bennett has stated that weed would be a far more superior option compared to NFL-promoted opioids, because cannabis, unlike painkillers, is a naturally grown herb: “God made weed.”

Along with all the pain relieving benefits this drug brings to the table, it also brings lots of hope for the seemingly under-fire game of football. There is a growing concern for the ramifications of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), which causes impulsiveness, aggression, and depression for players who have dealt with head injuries.

In recent medical studies Harvard professor, Lester Grinspoon proved that medical marijuana could actually reverse the effects of CTE by chemically stimulating the brain. By triggering a certain part of the brain, the brain can work to heal itself from the very same blows that led to CTE.

The existence of the most watched league in America could be in dire straits if these players aren’t allowed to utilize medical marijuana to curb the crippling effects of CTE.

To work on implementing better drug policies, first, the NFL could reduce the punishments for a failed drug test. Each player is tested once a year from the spring to the end of the summer. If the player is to fail, they go to NFL-endorsed rehab. For each consecutively failed drug test, rehab is followed by a two-game fine, then four-game fine, then four-game suspension, and finally, a ten game suspension.

In the NBA they test at four random times during the season, and punishments start with a mandatory abuse class, then $25,000 fine, then a five-game suspension, and finally a ten game suspension (followed by five games for every test not passed).

At first, the NBA punishment may seem more brutal, but you have to realize that there are 82 games in the season and missing five games is only 6% of their season, whereas missing ten games in the NFL is almost missing the whole season. Punishment for a safer way of healing should not be promoted if the NFL wants to protect their players’ health.

I’m not saying that both leagues should stop drug testing, but they should realize that marijuana is the smallest of their problems. Yes, there will be players that abuse the drug, but with the current climate of the league, the NFL should be chiefly focused on reprimanding players who are involved with domestic abuse, driving under the influence, and worse. Marijuana does not induce violence or put certain players at a significant advantage; it’s just making it easier for players to play football for longer with fewer repercussions.

I urge you to look at all the NFL players who are retiring early because of fear of destroying their bodies and brains. In this offseason, Kam Chancellor was one of the many to retire, citing the same message that Calvin Johnson made when he retired, stating that the injuries and ailments of playing professional football have grown to outweigh the money and love for the sport.

There is no point in players beating themselves down and putting the rest of their lives on the back-burner if they can’t heal naturally. Until the NFL understands that, more and more young players will continue to end their careers far too early. It is imperative that the NFL takes action now to make the game medically safe to play. #FireGoodell

– Cole

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