Former Pro Bowl defensive end Leonard Marshall has won two Super Bowls and spent 11 years in the NFL before coaching high school football. To this day, he needs to take medication for the ravages to his body. Now he is asking the National Football League to consider marijuana as a painkiller for current players.
If there is one sport that really punishes a body like no other, it is football, and the pain doesn’t necessarily stop once you quit the game. The agony can last a lifetime, requiring some heavy-duty medications to manage the pain.
The odd thing is that doctors and the league have no problem prescribing addictive medications like Oxy and Vicodin that can actually get a person high, but when it comes to giving players pot to manage their pain, doctors shut off.
In 2013, Marshall was diagnosed with signs of the brain-eating disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and he now starts his days with a dose of CBD, which comes from pot. Though, unlike THC, which is also found in marijuana, CBD does not get you high.
He smokes this amber colored liquid throughout the day as well to fend off crippling headaches along with the other effects of the brain disease.
“The headaches, the migraine headaches, is what CBD has really affected big time,” Marshall states. “I won’t say the relief was immediate, but I would say from minutes to hours from usage, I could tell the difference.”
As teams get ready for next season, there is more and more demand for the league to embrace cannabis as an alternative to dangerously addictive, mind-altering pain killers. But as long as marijuana stays on the banned list, active players will not have access to it without putting their career in jeopardy.
“What I’m asking for is research,” says Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan, currently the only active NFL player publicly advocating for cannabis. “We play a violent game. The injury rate is 100%. The more options we have for our health the better.”
There is still a lot to learn about CBD and how it can help football players deal not only with the symptoms of CTE but also how it could prevent concussions and maybe even stop CTE from developing. But without further research, and without the permission of the NFL, we may never know.
It simply does not make sense for doctors and teams to stay with the old way of doing things. Why keep prescribing dangerous drugs that get people high when you could give them something that is not as addictive and that does not get the user high?
“The NFL has spent $100 million on concussion research,” says Realm of Caring executive director Heather Jackson, “but not one buck on a known and patented neuro-protectant.”