In another signal its stance on medicinal cannabis use may further soften, the NFL and the NFL Players Association are stumping up funding for research into pain management and cannabinoids.
The NFL’s current drug policy includes a ban on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and some CBD products. The ban on the latter is based on the NFL’s view there is not enough research and information on the use of CBD for the treatment of acute and chronic pain.
But the ramifications of the cannabis ban have been eased in recent times. Under a collective bargaining agreement struck last year, players who test positive for marijuana will no longer be suspended, the testing period has been limited and THC threshold amounts increased.
It’s still not an ideal situation given dozens of NFL teams play in legalized medical or adult-use cannabis markets.
In January this year, the Pain Management Committee of the NFL and the NFL Players Association, the union that represents players, held a forum with sports medicine manufacturers who use CBD in their products. Now, the league is further investigating the potential for cannabis generally and CBD specifically as potential alternatives to prescription opioids.
Dr. Kevin Hill, co-chair of the Pain Management Committee, has said that the committee has heard mixed results from players about using marijuana to treat pain and has concerns using medical marijuana and CBD to treat pain may be riskier than most people realise.
“There is a need for better information, better science,” said Dr. Hill. “When we talk about having elite athletes use CBD to treat pain, we want to make sure it’s, No. 1 safe, and No. 2 efficacious. I don’t think we’re at that point yet.”
The NFL and the NFL Players Association is putting up $1 million to look into these other pain management issues, and the effects of cannabis or cannabinoids on athletic performance. A request for proposal has gone out and up to 5 grants are to be awarded around November this year.
Further details on the funding, proposal submission and review process can be found here.