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While professional sports organizations have been scrambling to address the health concerns of current and retired athletes, former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon announced he is using cannabis to relieve symptoms caused by injuries obtained during his years in the National Football League (NFL).

McMahon’s 15-year career with the NFL has left him with debilitating conditions, many of which are associated with multiple head injuries. His symptoms include early-onset dementia, memory loss, vision and speech impairment, severe headaches and chronic body pain.

At one point, McMahon was taking 100 pills of Percocet a month to treat pain symptoms.

“They were doing more harm than good,”

McMahon told the Chicago Tribune.

Side effects from Percocet, which is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen, include respiratory depression, chronic constipation, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Long term use of Percocet can lead to liver damage. As with other opioids, Percocet has a high potential for abuse.

“This medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain — or thinking about it, anyway.”

says McMahon.

jim mcmahon mmj(photo credit: Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

Medical cannabis has allowed McMahon to cease using Percocet. He prefers indica strains for their sedative effects, which he uses morning, at noon and again in the evening to sleep. McMahon reported that medical marijuana allows him to maintain focus without the mental impairments that are associated with prescription painkillers.

While McMahon currently resides in Arizona and participates in their medical marijuana program, the Chicago Bear’s home state of Illinois has some of the strictest laws in the nation governing medical marijuana. Currently, pain is not considered a valid condition to qualify for medical marijuana. Governor Rauner’s administration reports having concerns that pain is too nebulous of a condition and could be a gateway to abuse, despite prescription painkiller abuse being at an all-time high in the United States. However, the state advisory board is recommending that Illinois add pain (and seven others) as a qualifying condition.

McMahon is part of a pending class-action lawsuit that charges the NFL with negligence in the handling of head injuries and concussions. He also participated in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series where he addressed his ongoing health problems.

photo credit: sportmockery

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