Should the NFL Allow Marijuana?

Playing Should Medicinal Marijuana Use Be Allowed in the NFL?

While many people are now turning to marijuana for medicinal use to ease chronic pain, the NFL remains intolerant. One poll shared that almost half of NFL players secretly use cannabis months after their drug tests to ease the pain from game-inflicted injuries. If caught, they risk heavy fines and a full-season suspension. However, doctors are handing out highly addictive opioids like candy. Former NFL player Kyle Turley joins The Doctors to share why he supports allowing marijuana to NFL players.

Kyle shares that professional athletes are some of the most prescribed patients in America because of all the injuries that come along with sports. He says NFL players in their mid-20’s and 30’s are experiencing arthritis on levels of 70 – 80-year-olds.  Kyle is most concerned with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a degenerative brain disease common amongst the NFL community.

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Kyle says cannabis has potential neuroprotective aspects and plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon seems to agree. Dr. Ordon says he doesn’t understand why the NFL is so slow to recognize that cannabis can be used for medicinal use for helping with neurological processes as well as helping to alleviate pain in concert with opioids or to get off them completely. 

Kyle shares from his own experience that he has had a myriad of surgeries and he finds that both CBD, which is the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, as well as THC, when combined, have an entourage effect. He contributes marijuana to saving his life after the negative side effects from all the prescription drugs he was taking. He says he no longer takes any opioids at all.

Psychotherapist Dr. Mike Dow says when you look at the research, prescription pain medication versus marijuana, marijuana is certainly the lesser of two evils. He says he does a lot of cognitive behavior therapy and a lot of research shows that combining this type of therapy with CBD has worked well.

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The Doctors do acknowledge their understanding of the opposite side's concerns as far as people using cannabis to get high, and that it can in some ways be considered addictive. Kyle believes it is not addictive whatsoever and equates quitting marijuana to giving up coffee or soda. Dr. Ordon says medicinal marijuana has its benefits yet more research is needed but we should keep an open mind about it. OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry adds she thinks it's commendable that players want to come off opioids. 

The Doctors reached out to the NFL and this is their full statement:

“The NFL and NFL Players Association have comprehensive programs and policies addressing both PEDs as well as illegal drugs and substances of abuse. In that respect, we rely on independent medical advisors who regularly review the most current research and scientific data, and there is more to learn about cannabinoid compounds as they may relate to their potential treatment of acute and chronic pain. This is an area of research we are looking to develop further, along with the NFLPA, to determine whether those substances could be used as an effective and safe pain-management tool for players. Currently, however, our advisors have not recommended making a change or revisiting our collectively-bargained policy and approach related to marijuana and cannabinoids.”