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NFL players and doctors fight for marijuana as opioid alternative


(NaturalNews) With the cooperation and support of doctors and other cannabis advocates, NFL players are becoming increasingly successful in forcing a dialog with the league regarding the use of marijuana as a painkiller.

Many current and former players support the use of cannabis as an effective alternative to opioid painkillers, the use of which has caused problems for NFL athletes – just as it has for much of the rest of the American public.

One current, and eight former NFL players in favor of cannabis as a therapeutic aid, recently co-signed a letter with Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (a group of physicians who advocate legalization and responsible regulation of marijuana), calling on the league to reconsider its stance on the subject.

Currently, cannabis is on the list of substances prohibited by the NFL, despite the fact that more than half of U.S. states have now legalized medical marijuana.

More and more NFL players think it's time for a change in policy, but many are afraid to speak out due to the potential threat to their careers.

Eugene Monroe, former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle, was one of the ex-NFL players who co-signed the letter. He believes that his outspokenness on the subject of cannabis was one of the reasons he was released from the team.

"Players certainly are reluctant to voice their opinion on the issue because of the fear of being released, being blackballed," he said.

Monroe, along with Tennessee Titan linebacker Derrick Morgan – the only active NFL player to sign the letter – hope that the endorsement of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation will encourage more current players to speak out in favor of cannabis as therapy.

Cannabis has been shown to be an effective natural alternative to pharmaceutical painkillers, particularly opioids, which are highly addictive and extremely dangerous.

The potential of cannabis in the fight against opioid abuse within the NFL

The American opioid epidemic has also had significant effects within the NFL.

From CNN:

"According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, over half of all retired NFL players used narcotic painkillers during their careers, and 71% of those ended up abusing those painkillers. One in seven of those players continues to have dependency issues after playing."

The letter to the NFL berates the league for its "zero tolerance" policies and failure to recognize the potential health benefits of cannabis for players. Although the league has pledged $100 million to "look at anything and everything" that might protect players' health and safety, it has overlooked the value of cannabis – not only as a painkiller, but also as a treatment for head injuries and other adverse health conditions.

"The NFL's Policy ... prohibits the 'illegal use of drugs,' including cannabis in a list that implicitly equates it with cocaine, opioids, MDMA and PCP. Within the medical community, cannabis is consistently regarded as less toxic, less addictive, and less harmful than many legal drugs like alcohol, tobacco or prescription opioid medications, let alone those illegal drugs mentioned in the Policy."

Time for a change

The NFL's marijuana policies were hammered out and negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement between the NFL Players Association and the league, but the players' union may now become influential in persuading the league to reverse or modify its stance.

According to CNN, Monroe and Morgan are working with the players' union to create a "pain management committee," which will explore a range of alternative therapies, including cannabis compounds.

Attitudes are changing rapidly regarding marijuana. Recent ballot results added four new states to the list of those permitting marijuana as medicine, and four new states passed laws allowing recreational cannabis use.

If the trend continues, all Americans – including NFL athletes – may soon have legal access to one of the world's most useful and versatile natural plant-based remedies.





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