The NFL has not traditionally been the biggest fan of anything cannabis or CBD related. Until now, there’s been a natural distinction between sports and cannabis. Could that all be about to change?
When it comes to professional sports, there’s no room for mistakes. Perhaps that’s why cannabis and anything related to it, even CBD, is something that professional bodies like the NFL have always frowned upon. It stands to reason if you think about it, especially as cannabis use is usually associated with stoned people and that’s the antithesis of what football players are meant to be.
If you also take into account decades of cannabis prohibition and criminal proceedings for those caught with it, it’s no wonder that all that suspicion and animosity exists. However, new recent scientific research on cannabis suggests that at least some of Cannabis’ compounds are medicinal and can treat things like anxiety, insomnia, and pain.
One of those compounds is CBD, short for Cannabidiol, and it’s been getting a bunch of attention lately. When the NFL heard about CBD and took consultation on it last year, the deep-seated suspicions and negative feelings they had towards it were softened. When they were told it was a non-toxic and non-addictive way to treat pain from sports injuries; their ears perked right up.
The NFL seems so impressed with the possible positive effects of CBD (knowing that it won’t get players high) that they just announced an agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association. The NFL agreed to take part in two new committees to look more closely at how CBD could be introduced to players. According to a report in the Washington Post, Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, said it’s a “proud day” for the NFL. “I think it’s a proud day for the NFL and the NFLPA to come together on these issues in a very public way,” he said.
The use of illegal drugs is, understandably, taken very seriously by the NFL. Cannabis is on their list of banned substances for players and drug tests are routinely carried out, with the fear of suspensions and fines if they fail those drug tests. The NFL has long maintained a strict policy against cannabis, which is on the league’s list of banned substances.
However, when NFL players started encountering serious issues after getting injured and then becoming addicted to prescription drugs, cannabis use appeared minor in comparison. Horror stories about some Football players taking 180 pills a day to cope with their pain after getting addicted to legally prescribed drugs shook the NFL to their core and prompted action.
Eugene Monroe, a former player for the Baltimore Ravens, is a medical cannabis and CBD advocate. Monroe told Rolling Stone magazine back in 2017, “This is medicine, and although people are able to consume cannabis and enjoy it recreationally, the application we are talking about is its medical application,” he said.
Monroe got to the real crux of the issue when he added, “We don’t see the NFL trying to control players’ alcohol consumption or tobacco consumption. In fact, the NFL advertises those things. Cannabis is less damaging, less dangerous, less addictive than both of those. However, we see those being celebrated. The NFL is even expanding its hard liquor advertisement.” Enough said.
It remains to be seen what the outcome of the two committees will be and how they will change things on the ground. While one committee will focus on the potential benefits of CBD for pain management, the other committee will discuss CBD for mental health. It’s interesting to see how professional bodies like the NFL are reacting to widespread cannabis legalization.
And with increasingly compelling evidence suggesting that certain compounds in cannabis can be used for things like pain relief and anxiety, it won’t be long before more professional sports bodies in North America need to take their own look at cannabis and CBD.