On the heels of a $765 million settlement compensating former NFL players and families of deceased players who have suffered cognitive injury, the Marijuana Policy Project has unveiled a billboard near Mile High Stadium urging the NFL to stop punishing players for marijuana usage.
“For years, the NFL has been punishing players for using marijuana despite the fact that it is far less harmful than alcohol, a substance widely embraced by the league,” The MPP states on its site. “Now that the U.S. Justice Department has announced that states are allowed to legalize marijuana for adults or for medical use, the NFL should also recognize and respect those laws.”
The MPP’s campaign, which includes an online petition asking the NFL “stop driving players to drink with severe penalties for using marijuana,” is not a unique position amongst cannabis activists, who take the argument further in stating cannabis may actually benefit players. In his book “Marijuana: Gateway to Health” Clint Werner points out the benefits of cannabis in regards to traumatic brain injuries, citing the work of veteran cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam.
“[Mechoulam’s research] suggests that cannabinoids protect the brain after an injury by stimulating the cannabinoid receptors into action in order to neutralize the effect of the harmful compounds,” Werner wrote.
The NFL’s recent settlement includes compensation for the families of players who committed suicide after suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition, which according to Werner’s research, is extremely common amongst NFL players.
“Ideally, NFL officials should provide players with a few inhalations from a joint, bong, pipe or vaporizer as they leave the practice and playing fields,” Werner wrote. “Marijuana should be as common in the NFL locker rooms as are ice packs. If cannabinoids are the only remedy for this type of brain damage, which is an occupational hazard for professional football players, shouldn’t those players be allowed to protect themselves with marijuana?”