Former NFL Players
A number of former NFL football players have become vocal in their support of removing marijuana from the league’s list of banned substances. Players like Nate Jackson, a former tight end for the Denver Broncos, have said that medical marijuana would give professional football players a more effective and much safer way to deal with the physical pain associated with playing the sport than the painkillers currently being prescribed.
Under the league’s current rules, which ban the use of marijuana, players are forced to rely on “a cocktail of pain pills and anti-inflammatory injections” to cope with the variety of injuries they regularly sustain while playing, an article published by The Guardian said.
As the NFL has become more dependent on these types of drugs, many have begun pointing to the problems this introduces for both the league and its players.
A 2011 study conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, for example, found that “retired NFL players use painkillers at a much higher rate than the rest of us.”
In particular, the authors of the study discovered that NFL players use opioids at a rate of roughly four times more than the general population.
This has left former players especially vulnerable to dangerous opioid abuse and addiction, as “more than seven in 10 players who used pain medications during their playing days went on to abuse them, though former offensive tackle Kyle Turley said he thinks that number is actually closer to 90%.”
Players like Jackson and Turley argue that the league could reduce the likelihood of players ending up addicted to opioids if it allowed them to use marijuana medicinally.
“I feel like I can speak about this because I’ve tried everything,” Jackson told reporters from The Guardian.
“I’ve shot up HGH , done the injections, tried the pills, tried marijuana. It’s not that I’m this big marijuana guy, it just helped my body the most.”
Currently, players and former players alike are beginning to organize their efforts to get marijuana removed from the NFL’s list of banned substances.
“Earlier this year,” The Guardian reports, “Turley founded the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, a group of former players dedicated to sharing their personal experience with medical marijuana and advocating for its inclusion in the NFL.”