NFL Invests in CBD Research as Opioid Alternative

by | Jun 29, 2023 | Latest News | 1 comment

Professional athletes make a lot of money. It may surprise you to know that players don’t actually pay for their own health bills. Players in the National Football League have access to healthcare services through the club (team) they are contracted to play for.

Each club has a physician that is an expert in sports medicine injuries. Players are required to consult first with the club physician and follow the treatment recommendations provided. If the treatment plan does not work well, the player can seek treatment from another medical professional. However, the football club pays all medical bills.

The NFL is interested in improving therapies and injury treatments for players. They also provide recommendations and regulations to help prevent injuries. With contracts that can run into millions of dollars (whether a player is on the field or at home and injured), expenses for healthcare for NFL athletes are very expensive.

Helping athletes reduce injuries and improve post-injury recovery are important goals for the NFL. In 2023, the National Football League supported cannabinoid research with a $1 million donation.

Football Players Sustain Serious Injuries

Elite professional athletes in the NFL who are injured may sit out a season to get medical help and physiotherapy. The largest signing bonus in NFL history was Lamar Jackson, who received $72.5 million and total compensation of $80 million to play for the Baltimore Ravens in 2023.

But for many players who are not paid the celebrity signing bonuses, they have to work their way up in the NFL. Being injured or perceived as having an injury that is unresolved can make getting a club contract harder for up-and-coming players.

CBD football injury

For this reason, many players suffer through painful symptoms and often do not report them to the club. Instead, they are forced to use alternative pain management methods and multiple treatment modalities that do not include cannabidiol (CBD), medical cannabis, and other nonprescription medication options.

The most common injuries sustained by NFL players are:

  • Concussions
  • Ankle sprains
  • Knee injuries
  • Hip pointers (deep bruising of the iliac crest area)
  • Hamstring, quad, and groin strains
  • Acromioclavicular sprains
  • Hand and wrist injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)

Boston University CTE Center announced recently that of 376 NFL players scanned for brain injuries, 345 or 91.7% of players had evidence of brain disease CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is believed to be linked to repeated head injuries. It is a progressive disease that can lead to dementia if not properly treated.

Strict Rules and Penalties for Drug Use for NFL Players

Players can develop chronic pain and recurrent injuries. Prescription opioid medications and NSAIDs are routinely prescribed for pain relief. But some types of injuries don’t resolve over time. And players have a risk of developing side effects from opioid use.

Suppose there are safer methods of coping with injuries and chronic pain for players. In that case, NFL clubs are eager to explore alternative pain management strategies because players are prohibited from using steroids, hormones, psychedelics, synthetic cannabinoids, and stimulants.

Players are required to submit to drug testing a minimum of six (6) times during the offseason annually. And there are fines, mandatory game suspensions, and other serious penalties that players face if they test positive for a controlled substance.

In the past, that has included using cannabidiol (CBD) products. If used daily, it is possible for someone using CBD to fail a drug test. But recently, the NFL has changed its opinion about CBD.

NFL locker room

New Investment to Research CBD for Sports Medicine Injuries

Marijuana Moment shared an article called “NFL Is Putting More Money Into Research On CBD As An Opioid Alternative For Players With Concussions.” The Chief Medical Officer for the NFL is Allen Sills, and he shared:

“We are proud to lead the way on investigating how the use of CBD and other alternative measures could positively impact pain management for players. As within the broader scope of player health and safety, we want to ensure every treatment at our disposal clears the appropriate medical standard for wider use.”

Both the football clubs and player association support research funding about CBD and how it can be used to improve wellness and recovery for injured NFL players. The NFL-NFLPA committee previously held information forums on CBD in 2020.

The National Football League announced that it had awarded $1 million in research funding to the University of California San Diego and the University of Regina (Canada). The first-of-it’s kind randomized human study will trial the effect of cannabinoids on pain management and whether CBD offers neuroprotective qualities that can help players who incur concussion symptoms.

Progressive New Regulations Proposed by NBA Players Association

The NFL is not the only organization taking a closer look at cannabinoids and the wellness potential of CBD use. The National Basketball Association announced in April 2023 that there was a collective agreement prepared to allow players more freedom regarding cannabinoid use.

The collective bargaining would have allowed players to own CBD or cannabis brands and be paid as a spokesperson to promote them. There was also a request to allow players with medical cannabis cards (or those who wanted to use CBD daily) to be exempted from randomized drug test penalties.

However, in May 2023, the NBA clarified that pro-basketball players were not permitted to use medical cannabis. Regardless of whether it was used in the off-season and if the player lived in a state where medical cannabis was legalized. Players can now be partial owners of CBD and cannabis brands but may not be a spokesperson for the products.

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1 Comment

  1. Massive News

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