The NFL Is Exploring CBD as a Potential Aid for Players

It has taken a long time to arrive, but at last, the NFL is finally looking into the use of CBD products in the league. At the time of writing, the league’s draconian policy is no longer in place. It has acknowledged the necessity of following through and learning more about cannabis and its cannabinoids.

In 2019, the NFL announced that it would study marijuana and its cannabinoids to see if it was a possible pain management tool. It took the first steps towards that process in January 2020. It was a sign that perhaps football players could use CBD oil one day. The NFL created a Pain Management Committee to meet with manufacturers of cannabidiol to see if CBD and football could mix.

The NFL stated at the time that it was looking to gather as much information and scientific research as possible. It wants to learn about different CBD delivery systems, and how products such as edibles, oil, and vaporizers could help.

At the time, the ban on THC and many CBD products remained in place. Even after the initial fact-finding mission in early 2020, the NFL reiterated its stance. The league said that there wasn’t enough research and information available to support claims regarding CBD’s efficacy.

It isn’t an unreasonable stance. After all, CBD still isn’t federally legal. As a result, wide scale research only began recently. However, it was a tacit admission that the NFL is concerned about the sheer scale of painkiller addiction amongst past and current players.

New Policy – New Hope?

In March 2020, news broke about how a new NFL policy could remove suspensions for testing positive for cannabis. It came at a time when the 10-year labor agreement between the league and players union was about to be ratified. According to the new collective bargaining agreement, those who test positive for cannabis will not be suspended. This means football players can use CBD oil without fear of stiff penalties.

Testing will now happen during the first two weeks of training camp, rather than the previous lengthy period between April and August. Also, the threshold for the amount of THC that triggers a positive test increased fourfold. This is excellent news for CBD and football. As long as the product in question adheres to the 0.3% THC or lower guideline, the chances of testing positive for marijuana is almost zero. That is, as long as the athlete doesn’t also use THC!

Cynics suggest that the NFL has acquiesced because fans don’t seem to care a great deal about the issue. The league can seem progressive without ruffling too many feathers.

It is a significant departure from the strict rules of the past. While there is no longer the threat of a suspension, those who test positive will receive a fine of several weeks’ salary. First-time positive tests will likely mean the player in question will go to a treatment program mandated by the league.

It is important to note that suspension is NOT off the table. If a player refuses to participate in testing or clinical care, they could receive a three-match ban after a fourth violation.

What Football Players Use CBD Oil?

At present, it is only former pros that admit combining CBD and football. However, a significant number of players have openly pushed for looser restrictions on cannabis and CBD. They believe it can help treat pain similarly to prescription medication, without the associated side effects and addiction.

A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine in June 2018, revealed something highly concerning. According to the data, over 26% of retired players admitted using prescription opioids within the previous 30 days. Almost half of the players said they didn’t use them as prescribed.

Yet despite this problem, 17 states still don’t permit MMJ. A handful of states also make the use of CBD oil difficult. It is a crazy situation, and could severely hinder a football player’s desire to avoid the addiction cycle.

As for how many NFL players use cannabis, the number remains open to interpretation. One estimate suggests that at least 50% and possibly up to 90% use it! Former players such as Rob Gronkowski and Ricky Williams have openly spoken about how beneficial THC and CBD are.

In 2016, Eugene Monroe of the Baltimore Ravens became the first active player to ask the league to stop testing players for cannabis. He said it was necessary so that players could use it for chronic pain.

Although there is no longer a ban for testing positive for marijuana, players can still lose earnings. As a result, we expect the number of football players who use CBD oil to multiply significantly. There is a growing number of CBD companies, but only a handful – such as Provacan – have established a positive international reputation.

AFI
American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!
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