NFL plans to explore marijuana use for players’ pain, report says |

NFL plans to explore marijuana use for players’ pain, report says

Ben Schmitt
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Ricky Williams talks about his cannabis advocacy at the World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, Friday, April 21, 2017.

The NFL might be changing its stance on marijuana use as a treatment option for players dealing with pain.

League officials want to at least explore the possibility of marijuana use as a medical option with the help of the NFL Players Association, according to a Washington Post report.

The report comes only three months after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proclaimed on a sports talk show that pot is addictive and unhealthy for players.

“It does have an addictive nature,” Goodell previously told the ESPN show Mike & Mike. “There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term.”

Perhaps Goodell’s position is changing.

The NFL has written to the NFL Players Association offering to work in tandem to study the potential use of marijuana as a pain management tool, the Post reported.

“We look forward to working with the Players Association on all issues involving the health and safety of our players,” said Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications.

The union previously has said it is studying medical marijuana use on its own.

In April, the World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo at Downtown Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center featured former Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back Ricky Williams, who advocates in favor of allowing players to use marijuana.

While NFL players are allowed to take heavy prescription drugs — such as opioids — for pain, marijuana remains a banned substance.

“If you get in the drug program and you get in trouble, it’s so punitive,” Williams told the Tribune-Review while discussing NFL drug policies. “Players aren’t getting help. They are only getting punished for something that I think we can at least make the argument is probably healthier than opioids and prescription drugs that players are taking.”

Medical marijuana has been legal in Pennsylvania for more than a year , and the highly regulated industry required to support it here is expected to be operating by mid-2018.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, [email protected] or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

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