06-22 | CDAH Team
Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe’s crusade to recognize marijuana as a pain treatment option for National Football League (NFL) players appears to elicit response from the right quarters with the officials concerned showing interest in his campaign.
To learn about the potential medical benefits of cannabis, NFL senior vice-president for player health and safety Jeff Miller and neurological surgeon Russell Lonser, a member of the league’s head, neck and spine committee, recently had a conversation with the researchers of the university that received fund from Monroe to conduct a research on the medical benefits of marijuana.
Citing a University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine assistant professor, a report in the Washington Post said, “They are interested in learning more about the potential for cannabinoids to help current and former players, as is evidenced by them taking the call, and also expressed a desire to learn more. They are definitely showing genuine curiosity, and they are definitely not throwing up roadblocks.”
Monroe had recently donated $80,000 to researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania to study the effect of cannabinoid use in pain management on current and NFL players.
For an American football player, it is nearly impossible not to get injured. Most often, doctors prescribe a combination of anti-inflammatory and pain medications to get the players back to the field. Even as 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, of which four states and the District of Columbia have even allowed recreational use of the drug, NFL and National Basketball Association (NBA) do not favor marijuana use and they penalize players if tested positive for marijuana.
Since there is a preconceived notion associated with marijuana, which is considered lethal and dangerous, it might be a challenge to accept the drug as an antidote for pain. Monroe had peer-reviewed studies to back his argument and explained the positive impacts of the drug.
To fight the epidemic of prescription drug abuse, many former NFL players have advocated the use of medical marijuana as an alternative pain reliever.
Some of the emeritus footballers, including former NFL players Kyle Turley and Ricky Williams, have supported Monroe’s mission. The purpose is loud and clear so as to allow players seek refuge in cannabis to deal with the chronic bouts of pain, rather than seeking refuge in sedative opioids, which have harmful side effects. Cannabis is a significantly safer alternative than opioids and has been found to be effective in diminishing opioid dependence and reducing the long-term effects of brain injuries.
Looking at the new scenario, the NFL changed its policy in 2014 and increased the threshold for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from 15 ng/ml to 35 ng/ml. However, Monroe hopes that his efforts will allow the use of medical marijuana for injury-prone NFL players and go a long way in educating people about the drawbacks of using opioids. “They’re causing a great deal of death and disaster all over the country,” he said.
Prescription painkiller overdose caused 19,000 deaths in 2014, as per the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Addiction to any drug, including opioids, is a fundamental neurological disorder that cannot be tapered off at once. Since the cravings are so strong and the fear of withdrawal is so intense, patients need to be informed of the risks, benefits and alternatives to a particular treatment.
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