Last week, the NFL's Derrick Morgan opened up about why he became a cannabis advocate. In an interview with NPR, the Tennessee Titans linebacker said he was inspired by Charlotte Figi, a nine-year-old girl from Colorado who became the face of medical marijuana due to her severe case of epilepsy.
Charlotte Figi has Dravet Syndrome, a form of epilepsy that is intractable - meaning it doesn't respond to medication. By the age of five, she was unable to walk, talk or eat because she was having 300 seizures a day and her body was shutting down. Every medication had failed, so the Figi family turned to a controversial treatment: CBD oil, a non-psychoactive cannabis extract that can treat pain and neurological dysfunction. Basically, it's a form of cannabis that doesn't get you high because there's no THC in it.
When Charlotte's seizures plummeted, her family was convinced that medical marijuana was a potent medicine. And so was the NFL's Derrick Morgan when he learned about her story and wondered if CBD could help football players with the neurodegenerative disorder CTE.
"I actually was watching the CNN documentary on weed and I'd seen this little girl named Charlotte, she had epilepsy, hundreds of seizures a week. And they started giving her this cannabis oil and it was a significant reduction in her seizures almost overnight," Morgan told NPR's Michel Martin. "So I started looking into it, starting researching and educating myself, reached out to [former player] Eugene Monroe because I've seen him publicly advocating for it....And the more and more I researched it, the more and more I got comfortable about talking about it."
Other players are also getting comfortable with discussing cannabis, thanks to Morgan.
"I've talked to several players about it; they have a lot of interest in it. Guys are concerned about their health and want to know what their options are. So I've gotten a lot of support and players reaching out who've been curious about it. So I've just been really trying to share all the information I have with them - connecting them to the right people and resources."
Players are interested in cannabis because it could be a safer and more effective treatment to prescription painkillers.
"Obviously we have an opioid epidemic in our country, the NFL is not immune to that," said Morgan. "So definitely as an alternative to the prescription painkillers and then also as a protectant for your brain."
And he hopes his own advocacy and patients like Charlotte Figi will inspire will inspired the NFL to research the medical benefits of marijuana. "What I'm asking for is just a thorough look into it - research into it. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence out there of people benefiting from it. But I think we need some clinical research into it in order to make some progress."
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