It’s that time of the year again. The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are beginning to change, and football is back in full swing with the NFL season kicking off this past weekend. Aside from the controversy surrounding certain players’ reactions to the singing of national anthem, one of the largest looming issues off the field remains to be player injuries and how they are being treated and prevented. For the past several decades, it has been commonplace in NFL locker rooms for opioid-based painkillers and narcotic muscle relaxers to be readily available to players, most of the time without any doctor regulation in terms of dosage. The result of this has been many cases of severe addiction and dependency in current and ex-players that the NFL has largely refused to take any responsibility for. This is clearly a very serious issue that needs to be reformed, and several players have taken it upon themselves to treat their pain with alternate safer, healthier methods. The only problem is that the NFL is suspending them for doing so.
The poster boy for this issue is former running back Ricky Williams, who saw an issue with how pain was treated from his first days in an NFL locker room. "I was sitting in the training room one day and I just watched player after player come in to take a Toradol shot just to practice," says Williams. "I realized if we have to take all this medication, all these pharmaceuticals, just to practice it can't be good for our bodies in the long run. And that's when I started to look at my health seriously and look for alternatives." Unfortunately for Ricky, the league didn’t agree with his right to alternative treatment, and after several suspensions for medicating with cannabinoids Williams was eventually forced into early retirement for the sake of his own personal health.
Because of the stigma that still surround cannabinoids, CBD is still considered a banned substance both on and off the field. Despite the proven ability of Cannabidiol to reduce swelling (including in the brain) as a potent anti-inflammatory; despite the fact it is a highly effective pain reducer and has been proven to suppress muscle spasms; despite the fact that CBD has even been shown in some cases to even promote bone regeneration in patients who have suffered from broken and fractured bones; the NFL still say no way. They refuse to acknowledge that CBD has zero psychoactive effect on players. They refuse to look at new studies and data that break the stigma connected to CBD and the negative connotations because of its classification as a cannabinoid. They don’t care that it is produced using legal hemp plants and not marijuana. They refuse to admit that they might have gotten this one wrong, and worst of all they refuse to change.
With the current situation surrounding both addiction and long term health issues in the National Football League, one would think the NFL would jump all over any possible solution. It is hypocritical to think that opiates are safer or healthier than a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, and the fact of the matter is that the benefits of CBD are practically tailor-made to treat the injuries associated with playing in the NFL. It’s a shame they lack the open-mindedness to embrace it.
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