The NHL Alumni Association Hopes Medical Marijuana Can Help Athletes with Some of Their Most Serious Injuries

The NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA) announced a research partnership with Canadian cannabis producers Canopy Growth to explore the potential for medical marijuana as a concussion treatment.

Concussions are a huge concern for professional athletes, with estimates suggesting that anywhere between 1.6 and 3.8 million pro-athletes suffer concussions each year. Approximately 10-15 percent of those athletes will have their mental wellbeing serious effected by post-concussion symptoms like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia. With these problems in mind, the NHLAA is committed to studying whether or not medical marijuana is an effective treatment for concussion patients.

"To me this is hope and this is help for players," said Glenn Healy - a former Stanley Cup Champion (New York Rangers) and current Executive Director of the NHL Alumni Association. "We thank the members of the NHLAA whose willingness to join this unique research partnership speaks to the need for alternative medical treatments to treat the long-term and often devastating effects of concussions."

Around 100 former NHL players have volunteered to be a part of the new study which is being conducted in partnership with Canopy Growth and is being led by neurosurgeon Amin Kassam. The study will focus specifically on the non-intoxicating marijuana compound CBD and on the ways that cannabis can be used as part of a wider treatment program.

"We have seen the debilitating effects of chronic repeated head injuries on the lives of patients and their families," Dr. Kassam said. "Our team is excited…to demonstrate the immense and unexplored opportunity in cannabis-based remedies."

In recent years a number of former professional athletes have begun pushing professional sports leagues to loosen their regulations around medical marijuana. They've argued that research continues to show cannabis is both effective and safer than the opioids that athletes are most often given to treat injuries.

"We know that many athletes are already self-medicating with cannabis and its derivatives in an attempt to reduce both the physical and emotional consequences of head injury," said Dr. Mark Ware—Chief Medical Officer of Canopy Growth.

In most cases, professional athletes are barred from using the substance by league regulations even when medical marijuana is legal in their state, though organizations such as the NCAA have moved to modernize their drug regulations. Hopefully when the findings from the NHLAA's study will encourage more professional sports leagues to look into marijuana as an alternative treatment for their players.

H/T: Global News

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