The sports cannabis sector of the emerging global cannabis industry is increasing in size with every passing season. Ever since sports cannabis trendsetters like former NBA All-Star Clifford ‘Uncle Cliffy’ Robinson (RIP) and former Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams first announced their entry into the cannabis industry, numerous professional athletes have followed. So what’s the NFL’s position on Cannabis?
For many years professional sports leagues around the globe helped lead the way when it came to perpetuating negative stigma regarding cannabis use, and in some cases, that’s unfortunately still the case. In many leagues when an athlete was determined to have consumed cannabis or was caught with cannabis away from the league they were punished harshly and the leagues made an example out of them.
Clifford Robinson, Ricky Williams, and UFC star Nick Diaz are unfortunate examples of athletes being targeted by leagues and sports media for cannabis use. They were all suspended and fined, and in the case of Clifford Robinson prevented from pursuing many post-career league opportunities including coaching. It’s all absolutely hypocritical given the fact that major sports leagues have simultaneously embraced alcohol via league policies and advertising deals despite alcohol being considerably more harmful than cannabis.
NFL Doctors Throw Cold Water On Cannabis Hopes
The NFL’s position on cannabis has historically been to hand out some of the harshest penalties to players for cannabis use, recently announced that it would be funding a cannabis research project. Per an NFL news release in early June, “The pain management committee of the NFL and the NFL Players Association will provide $1 million in funding for research into pain management and cannabinoids..”
News of the research project being funded generated celebration throughout the sports cannabis community and the greater cannabis community alike, and rightfully so. It’s no secret that the NFL has been plagued by opioid addiction issues, which combined with the league’s historically horrific cannabis policy made it obvious to observers why the announcement was a big deal.
The cannabis plant has been found to be an effective tool when it comes to pain management, as proven by numerous studies and the testimonies of countless patients. Cannabis is far safer than opioid-based painkillers and exponentially less addictive. The ‘dangers’ of cannabis use by NFL players have clearly been overblown over the course of many decades, and unfortunately, at least one NFL doctor seems to still be clinging to that ridiculous propaganda.
‘Cannabis Is Still Risky’
Kevin Hill is a medical doctor who co-chairs a committee on pain management for the National Football League. With all of the news buzzing throughout mainstream media outlets regarding the NFL’s new research project, Kevin Hill apparently felt that it was necessary to offer up some reefer madness talking points…
“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests it’s a little bit riskier than people think,” Hill said according to a media report by Bloomberg. According to Bloomberg’s coverage, Hill’s primary concerns seem to be directed towards CBD products specifically, and that he is concerned about products’ purity and potency, in addition to concerns regarding how CBD interacts with other medications and CBD’s potential to ‘cause liver damage.’
Kevin Hill’s concerns do not appear to be shared by the international sports medicine community, as proven by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s position on CBD. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibits all-natural and synthetic cannabinoids except for CBD.
In fact, the only ‘concern’ listed on the WADA’s FAQs regarding CBD is that some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, and heavy consumption of those products could result in a failed drug test. There’s no mention of anything that Kevin Hill is reportedly concerned about, and that’s likely because WADA is basing its position on science, and not on reefer madness propaganda.
Will the NFL’s position on cannabis use change? It doesn’t look like anytime soon…
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Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference. Upcoming conferences include Rovinj, Croatia (September 22-23, 2022), Barcelona (March 9, 2023), Berlin Global Investment Forum (June 27, 2023), and Berlin B2B Trade Show (June 29-30, 2023).