By Ed Coghlan.
We don’t run a sports segment at the National Pain Report, a but a sports story that broke this week might have significance for the chronic pain community.
The Washington Post reported this week that he powerful NFL may be willing to work with the NFL Players Association to study the use of marijuana as pain management.
The league wrote a letter to the NFLPA, offering to work with it to study the potential use by players as a pain management tool, the source confirmed.
For the chronic pain community, this could be good news, given the influence of the league. For years, chronic pain patients, especially those who have federal-based insurance like the VA, Medicare and Medicaid have had to fight to gain access to medical marijuana.
The Federal Government still considers marijuana an illegal substance, even though several states—including California—have voted to approve it for recreational use.
NFL players, who essentially are in pain for the entire season if not beyond, have argued that marijuana provides relief and some study is long overdue.
The league may be lightening its resistance, finally.
“We look forward to working with the players’ association on all issues involving the health and safety of our players,” said Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications.
The NFL’s letter pointed out a few areas for potential research, including pain management for acute and chronic conditions. The league has previously indicated that it is studying marijuana as a pain management tool on its own.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told The Washington Post in January that the union was working on a proposal on a “less punitive” approach to recreational marijuana use.
“I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate,” Smith said at the time. “I think it’s important to look at whether there are addiction issues. And I think it’s important to not simply assume recreation is the reason it’s being used.”
Players are currently tested for marijuana and face potential discipline for positive tests. While the punishment is less severe than it used to be, the players—and now perhaps the league—are moving toward a stance where it’s ok to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.