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NFL funds $1 million research into medical cannabis and pain

The move is the next step in a shifting attitude towards players who use medicinal cannabis



For years the NFL suspended players who tested positive for cannabis use

The National Football League (NFL) in America is providing $1 million in funding for research into pain management and cannabinoids.

The pain management committee of the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced it would stump up the funding on Tuesday 8 June.

According to the organisation’s news platform, the move is the next step in a shifting attitude towards players who use medicinal cannabis to manage pain from injuries.


For years the NFL suspended players who tested positive for cannabis use, despite many maintaining that it is safer than commonly-prescribed opioids.

The NFL-NFLPA Pain Management Committee (PMC) was formed as part of a Collective Bargaining Agreement over a year ago, with the goal of benefitting the health and safety of NFL players through education and research.

Last year it conducted two informational forums on CBD to learn about the current state of CBD science and manufacturing in the US, as part of its aim to find alternatives to opioids in the pain management of players.

Earlier this year, the PMC made a formal request for information on “pain management alternatives to opioids”.

At the time, the NFL said it was seeking out qualified researchers who could lead studies into pain management and athletic performance

Up to five grants are expected to be awarded later this year.

Dr Kevin Hill, the co-chair of the pain management committee and director of addiction psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, said the level of interest in the use of medical cannabis “far exceeds” the amount of evidence available. reported that the committee has heard “mixed results” from players about using marijuana to treat pain and Hill. believes it could be “riskier” than people realise. 

“There is a need for better information, better science,” Hill said.

“When we talk about having elite athletes use CBD to treat pain, we want to make sure it’s No. 1 safe, and No. 2 efficacious. I don’t think we’re at that point yet.”



Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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