Why the NFL Should Allow Medical Marijuana

Professional football is rife with the use of prescription painkillers. Yet they continue to ban the therapeutic use of pot which could do just as much of a good job. Of course, almost all NFL players live with the threat of being cut if they are not able to play if they are injured, thanks to their contracts. What this means is that the use of prescription painkillers is widely used by these players in order to keep their careers.

It must be pointed out that in 20 of the states where the NFL has its franchises, it continues to keep this drug on its banned substance list. For this reason, a number of ex-NFL players like Nate Jackson and Kyle Turley have directed their efforts to lobby for this change – and for good reason too.
Apart from this, Scott Keyes at The Guardian is focusing on how the NFL allows for coaches and doctors to push players back on the field after loading them up with painkillers. Not only do they turn out to be addictive but also causing players to overexert themselves and aggravating those injuries further.

Keyes puts this practice in perspective, saying:

To hurry players back from injury, a cocktail of pain pills and anti-inflammatory injections are typically dispensed. Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Percocet, Toradol, Celebrex, Vioxx (before it was recalled for increasing the long-term risk of heart attacks and strokes) and so on. The widespread use of highly potent prescription pain drugs, some argue, has allowed the NFL to become the multibillion-dollar industry that it is today, but at a price.

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And given this practice, a study conducted at Washington University in St. Louis concluded that former NFL players were four times more likely to use prescription painkillers than normal people would. Apart from this, they also found that seven in 10 players went on to abuse prescription painkillers after they retired from playing football. Of course, Kyle Turley believes that that percentage is much higher – closer to 90%.

As mentioned earlier, Jackson and Turley are former players who are fighting this practice of prescription drug abuse in the NFL by opting for a better alternative: medical marijuana.

Speaking in an ESPN interview, Turley said that Depakote offered relief but caused a whole lot of other problems that made him feel like stabbing someone given the discomfort. However, after he got a medical marijuana prescription, he stopped using prescription painkillers including over-the-counter drugs like aspirin.

In addition, he has also founded the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition that consists of former NFL players like him who have also admitted that their former league continues to be “plagued with multiple ailments and diseases currently void of non-addictive treatments or cures.” This coalition is also advocating the treatment of injury using cannabis apart from funding research in using this herb as an organic form of treatment instead.

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But it’s not just marijuana. What is unexplainable is the NFL opting for painkillers that are far more toxic than other drugs that are available. The NFL generates about $7 billion annually, but these health and drug issues persist.

And with more and more active players not hesitant to go on record in regard to the treatment of injured NFL players, it only bodes well that the league takes steps to evolve with the times.

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