Super Bowl LIII came to an end with the New England Patriots prevailing over the Los Angeles Rams, but the fight for the NFL to consider CBD use for its players won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
CBD still remains on the NFL’s banned substances list, despite the 2018 Farm Bill removing hemp from its classification as a controlled substance under federal law. The most-well known professional sports leagues in the United States, including the NBA, MLB and NHL, have also not removed CBD from their banned substances list, although some are further along than others in the exploratory process of doing so.
However, several current and former NFL players have urged the league to reexamine its stance on CBD.
“The NFL prioritizes player health and safety. But when you prioritize player health and safety…you have to look into everything that is out there,” said Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan to CBS News. [This] is something that has been showing promising results.”
Derrick admitted he has not personally used CBD oil due to fears surrounding the league’s strict substance abuse policy. Although the NFL Players Association has formed a committee to study alternative forms of pain management, it’s unclear when CBD would become part of that study or deemed an acceptable option for players.
The closest thing to scientific research regarding CBD and NFL players is Ryan Vandrey, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, beginning the process of collecting surveys from active players to see what their current methods of pain management are.
Several doctors and medical professors have urged the NFL to explore research opportunities on how CBD might benefit its players. Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Emeritus Professor at the Department of Psychiatry of Harvard Medical School, wrote an open letter to NFL Commission Roger Goodell that was published in O’Shaughnessy’s in January 2016.
“The NFL pockets are deep enough to support a crash research program to determine that this combination of cannabinoids is effective in preventing the consequences of concussion so that we will know for sure whether or not it will protect against this threat to the players,” he wrote.
Former NFL Players Speak Out
No longer held to the NFL’s stringent policies, many former NFL players tried CBD after their playing careers ended and found it helped promote comfort and relaxation, among other benefits. It has now become a part of their daily routine.
Former Denver Broncos player Rick Upchurch told The Denver Post in March 2016 that he began using CBD during chemotherapy treatments to relieve nausea symptoms. Former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer turned to CBD oil two years ago in an effort to help support healthy cartilage and joint function after undergoing several hip surgeries. He has since become a strong proponent for CBD research and founded Athletes For Care, a non-profit organization that focuses on alternative treatment options for athletes.
“I started taking CBD oil last April and…the pain went away,” he said last April at the NoCo Hemp Expo. “I can get down and play Legos on the floor with my kids.”