In a recent interview with ESPN, Jake Plummer and Mark Brunell sat down to share their unique personal perspectives on marijuana use in the NFL and the policy that goes along with it. The two retired Pro-Bowlers have starkly contrasting views on the NFL’s marijuana policy. Plummer says, “I think of it [marijuana] as a medicine more than a drug.”
The NFL recently changed their testing guidelines for marijuana, raising the threshold for a possible test from 15 ng/mL to 35 ng/mL. Those changes could mean that NFL players could slip by a test when they’ve consumed marijuana within the last week. The NFL decided to raise these testing limits because the players union raised concerns over showing false positives due to second hand smoke.
Not only has the NFL relaxed their testing standards, they do not require mandatory testing throughout the regular season. All NFL players must still submit to one test in the three months prior to the start of the NFL season, but are not tested again during the season unless they fail their first test.
Plummer thinks the league is showing compassion by relaxing their testing policies. He says that he used marijuana for pain relief during his time in the NFL and post-retirement to treat his lingering ailments. He mentions the use of marijuana edibles as well as medicated transdermal patches as effective alternatives to smoking marijuana. Plummer said that he used marijuana occasionally before retiring in 2006, but now uses it frequently for pain relief.
One of Plummer’s former tight-ends, Nate Jackson also says that he used cannabis during his NFL career. Among his injuries while in the league were two severe muscle tears and a broken leg. Jackson said, “When I was recovering from an injury I found that marijuana was good.” He says that he didn’t like the pain pills that are commonly prescribed and the way that they made him feel.
Plummer and Jackson both estimate that half of NFL players use marijuana, while Brunell estimates around 75%. Describing marijuana the policy in the NFL Brunell said, “We don’t want you to do that. We don’t want it to have a place in the NFL, but it’s really not that bad.”
Mark Brunell gave a completely different perspective on the issue. Brunell retired from the Jets in 2011 and is now a high school coach in Jacksonville, Florida. He condemns the use of marijuana in the NFL, even for medicinal conditions and pain management. Brunell says, “I think most guys just want a reason and an excuse to use marijuana.”
Nate Jackson speaks toward a stark contradiction saying, “Marijuana is allowing them [the players] to live this life a little more comfortably. Football is the dangerous thing here. Football is the thing that’s maiming people, not marijuana.”
“There are more ways to use it, you’re not going to be a drug addict, you don’t need to go to treatment. You actually feel better.”
See the complete interview: ESPN.com
The marijuana policy reform movement has gained even more momentum, in the United States, since voters approved marijuana measures in two more states, a district, a U.S. territory and several municipalities on election day last week. The cannabis industry was already growing, as steps toward industry legitimization are being taken every day. Now, the industry has even more potential to explode into a cycle of exponential growth by the middle of 2015 because of an east coast company called KannaLife Sciences Inc., and one marijuana patent held by the federal government. KannaLife is working on the development of a cannabis-derived medicine that will help prevent treat, and even reverse brain injuries.
KannaLife was awarded an exclusive contract from a U.S. government agency to develop these cannabis-derived brain protecting products, under the marijuana patent, “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants,” which is held by the United States of America, and represented by agency of the Department of Health and Human Services called the National Institutes of Health. Earlier this year, a study published by The American Surgeon Journal, also, linked marijuana use to increased chances of surviving a brain injury.
In an interview with Fox News, Dean Petkanas, CEO of KannaLife Sciences explained,
“We’ve taken the pre-clinical approach so far, to date, on our first indication which is hepatic encephylopathy, which is a brain-liver disorder, where you do have neuronal degradation and degeneration, oxidative stress. So we felt that we could look at that in parallel with chronic traumatic encephylopathy, (CTE) another brain-related disease, and see if neuroprotection would indeed be afforded across that panel.”
Also according to Petkanas, KannaLife is hoping to have the cannabinoid therapy medicine patented and available by June 2015. The cannabinoid being used in for this program is cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive cannabinoid occurring naturally in marijuana. This is the same cannabinoid that has recently gained national attention for its hugely successful use in treating many medical conditions including epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimers, and more. This means that KannaLife’s cannabis therapy medication will not produce feelings of being “high” in players because the psychoactive cannabinoid THC will not be included.
To increase public awareness of the efforts, KannaLife has appropriately teamed up with ex-NFL player, Marvin Washington. Washington is part of the four-thousand-five-hundred person lawsuit, comprised of retired NFL players. The lawsuit participants claim that the NFL is, was, and has been aware of the detrimental, long-term effects on the brain caused by repetitive head injuries, and that the organization has chosen to purposely ignore this health risk.
Although the NFL did slightly ease up on it’s marijuana policy recently, commissioner Roger Goodell told CBS in October that it’s not changing the policy to include the use of medical marijuana because neither the league nor the union have been instructed to do so by medical staff, but it would be considered if it was recommended. Perhaps the product being developed by KannaLife Science will induce such a recommendation from the NFL medical staff. Many NFL players already used the plant for both medicinal and recreational purposes so it will be interesting to see how the organization’s drug policies change over the next few years as more and more medical uses are discovered for the cannabis plant.
Watch the video below to see what former defensive lineman Marvin Washington has to say about the cannabinoid therapy program, and why he thinks that the NFL needs to not only be following the science, but to be at the forefront of the development.
photo credit: amazonaws