Is NFL on the verge of allowing marijuana for pain management?
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — In striking an agreement with the NFL Players Association this week that calls for further study of alternative therapies for pain management, the NFL is sending signals that it has an open mind on a matter that players have advocated for years: allowing marijuana as a pain remedy.
That’s just one potential effect that could flow from the health, safety and wellness agreement, which bolsters commitment to establishing standards for prescription drug monitoring and increases support for mental health programs.
Yet the additional acknowledgment that marijuana might be considered is significant enough, considering how the NFL hasn’t budged to this point on removing marijuana from its list of banned substances as part of the drug policy — even as an increasing number of states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal and in many cases recreational usage.
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It’s possible that a newly-formed joint pain management committee, with medical experts appointed by the league and the union, could supply research that supports marijuana and products containing THC as a healing aid — and advance the ball on the NFL’s drug policy.
“We’ve asked the committee to look at any and all treatments,” Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told USA TODAY while attending league meetings. “We’ll go where the medicine takes us.”
An agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association calls for further study of alternative therapies for pain management. (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)
We’ll see. With marijuana still not legalized in several states with NFL franchises, a potential sticking point could exist in establishing a policy that applies uniformly for all 32 teams.
Can that be accomplished if the medicine supports it?
Said Sills, “I’m a doctor, not an attorney.”
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