Is Cannabis a Potential Treatment for CTE?
The NFL is back, and is more popular than ever. While millions continue to watch their favorite teams each Sunday, the 100 percent injury rate creates an uncertain future for football. Studies have exhausted efforts to find effective treatment for CTE. A study released this month indicated 87 out of 91 deceased former NFL players suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a disease believed to be caused by concussions and severe hits to the head. A recent ESPN profile of 39-year-old Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning describes the future Hall of Famer’s post-game routine in excruciating detail. While Manning has had a legendary career, it’s clear he has paid a tremendous physical price to stay on the field. This season, two young linebackers, Anthony Davis and Chris Borland, retired early in their careers over concussion concerns.
With more scrutiny on brain health and pain for gridiron gladiators, could cannabis be a valid therapy? It’s no secret that some NFL players are already medicating with marijuana, or enjoying it recreationally. As early as 2002 ESPN published an article listing the “All-Weed” Team – the best players at every position that have been caught with marijuana or a tested positive during drug screenings, and as many as 60 percent of current players were found to use pot. Kannalife Sciences, Inc., is working on a cannabinoid solution for CTE, focusing on CBD’s neuroprotective properties, but even if they are successful in bringing a drug to market, the NFL has traditionally taken a hardline stance against marijuana.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has mentioned the league may re-evaluate marijuana if the science can prove the benefits, but has continued to suspend even the most talented players (Josh Gordon, Le’Veon Bell) who violate the league’s drug policy. Hopefully cannabis can be used as a natural alternative to painkillers, providing relief to these talented athletes, and protect their brains long after the game is over.