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NFL Says Not Enough Science to Endorse Medical CBD, Marijuana for Players

Paul Kasabian

The Pain Management Committee, which is a joint NFL and NFL players' union initiative "tasked with providing advice to the league and union regarding recent developments in the area of pain management for elite athletes," recently released two memos to NFL teams that included its current stances on cannabidiol and its potential healing benefits, per Judy Battista of 

"CBD is a promising compound, but the extent of its use in the United States outpaces the level of evidence," the notice said per Battista.

Battista summarized other findings as follows:

"It adds that small clinical studies have suggested that CBD may be effective for treating neuropathic pain, but it is difficult to know the purity and potency of many products, because they are purchased from unregulated sources. The white paper also says that multiple controlled trails show cannabis and two FDA-approved cannabinoids are effective in treating chronic pain and neuropathic pain, but those trials used small sample sizes and short follow-up periods, raising concerns about what can be extrapolated from the trials."

Per Mark Maske of the Washington Post on May 20, the NFL and NFL players' union agreed to study marijuana and its potential pain-management impacts.

The remarks don't inspire confidence that marijuana will be removed from the league's list of banned substances, but Battista wrote that "the expectation is that a new [collective bargaining agreement] could include a different policy for marijuana."

The NFL and NFLPA's collective bargaining agreement will expire after the 2020 season.

The news comes one month after Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced that it would remove naturally derived marijuana from the list of "drugs of abuse" among other changes to its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.


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