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How The NFL's Drug Policy Endangers Players And The League

The National Football League needs to let players use cannabis to help them heal from injuries, according to former players Ricky Williams, Kyle Turley, Nate Jackson and Eben Britton. The quartet spoke at the High Times So-Cal Cannabis Cup Jan. 30 on a panel called, "How Cannabis Will Save the NFL."

Here's why they think the league should lift its ban on marijuana.

1. Cannabis helps players recover from concussions

Two-time All-Pro selection Kyle Turley is convinced that cannabis is the answer to the NFL's concussion crisis, which has mired the league in lawsuits and controversies:

"[C]annabis will save football," he told High Times. "There's no doubt about it....The neurological issues [that players commonly suffer] are best medicated with cannabis."

Turley told Freedom Leaf he began using cannabis to treat neurological issues because prescribed medications weren't helping. He says many other players have gone the same route, and the NFL needs to start recognizing that cannabis is part of the solution to the concussions that are so commonplace in the league:

"I suffer from traumatic brain injury from playing this sport. I've seen this firsthand in multiple scans of my brain. I understand that it's an occupational hazard. The fact that there are zero medications to stop the progression of this condition should impel everyone to search for an answer to this problem. If we want to save football, then we've got to start looking at solutions, not just count concussions. Cannabis is that potential savior. Seventy percent or more of the players use cannabis in the NFL today, because they know it works."

2. Current treatments hurt players

Many players find conventional treatments not only ineffective but also harmful, former Jacksonville Jaguar and Chicago Bear Eben Britton told High Times:

"You're seeing all the side effects - all the longterm issues that players are having with...painkiller issues, with Adderall, with anti-inflammatory issues. You know, the destruction that it causes on the internal body. Speaking for myself...I've been using marijuana for a while, and it's been really intrinsic with my football-playing career as far as keeping me away from all the pharmaceutical painkillers."

According to The Guardian, at least 70 percent of NFL players who are prescribed pain medications abuse them, and retired players are four times more likely to abuse prescription painkillers. Meanwhile, Adderall is easily accessible for current players and can cause dependence, according to a personal essay that Britton wrote for Sports Illustrated.

3. Cannabis treats physical and psychological pain

Cannabis is good for mental and physical health, says former Denver Bronco Nate Jackson:

"When you are off the field in the NFL, your whole sense of worth - sense of value - goes away immediately. And it's really easy to get locked in some depression. And if they're handing you pills in addition to can really send you down in the tank, you know. And for me, I used marijuana to avoid that, and I always healed fast, ahead of schedule."

For more on the NFL and cannabis, check out these videos from the So-Cal Cannabis Cup:

h/t High Times, The Atlantic, Freedom Leaf, The Guardian


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