NFL Players Say Marijuana Use Reduces Need for Painkillers

NFL Players Say Marijuana Use Reduces Need for Painkillers

by Ed Coghlan

ESPN has released a survey of football players that chronic pain patients should note. The players said that if marijuana is legal, they use fewer painkillers.

Marijuana is legal in 23 states for medicinal purposes but remains one of eight drugs banned under the NFL’s policy and program on substances of abuse.

The ESPN survey is consistent with other data being gathered regarding marijuana use.  The National Pain Report reported on a study from the University of Georgia showed that if your state has approved the use of medicinal cannabis, there is a quantifiable decline in the use of traditional prescription drugs.

“Generally, we found that when a medical marijuana law went into effect, prescribing for FDA-approved prescription drugs under Medicare Part D fell substantially,” investigators reported. “Ultimately, we estimated that nationally the Medicare program and its enrollers spent around $165.2 million less in 2013 as a result of changed prescribing behaviors induced by jurisdictions that had legalized medical marijuana.”

ESPN writes: Sixty-one percent of players in the survey said they believed fewer players would take pain-killing shots such as Toradol if marijuana were a legal option. Toradol is the most common anti-inflammatory taken by NFL players, and 64 percent of the survey’s respondents said they had taken an injection of it or another pain killer.

Still, 71 percent of the NFL players said they believe marijuana use should be legal. Four states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon — allow recreational use and voters in five more states, including California, will vote on the issue Nov. 8. Four additional states are considering initiatives involving marijuana for medical reasons. One of them—Montana—is voting to repeal its use.

NFL may be moving on finally allowing the use of marijuana. It appears the potential for relaxation is being driven by the public’s change in its (our) attitude toward the use of marijuana.

As Divya Ramesh of the University of Connecticut wrote recently, marijuana appears to work but we don’t know because it isn’t studied enough:

” Research in people suggest that certain conditions, such as chronic pain caused by nerve injury, may respond to smoked or vaporized cannabis, as well as an FDA-approved THC drug. But, most of these studies rely on subjective self-reported pain ratings, a significant limitation. Only a few controlled clinical trials have been run, so we can’t yet conclude whether cannabis is an effective pain treatment.”

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Dr. Isben makes a good point and I’m fairly sure the NHL does test for Pot but will not punish a player that tests positive. Testing is random for about 200 players prior to the start of the season, if a result is positive there is no public announcement made as to the identity of the player and no form of “real” punishment is invoked. Officials from the NHL said ” we try to be more civil about the use of marijuana”. If you have watched Hockey then you know a lot of players get hurt playing a very physical hard hitting game and then injured players use Pot to get back on the ice. Testing - we need more testing to verify the claims made that Pot does what people say it does. Americans have been “testing” pot for generations and I think the results are in - Pot can help with a lot of different medical problems and Pain is just one of them. As long as Pot is a schedule I drug no testing can be done, thanks to the DEA and I’m sure some other entity or government control freaks. Everyday, I see or hear a commercial about any new drug for any medical condition and at the end they quickly list the side effects: amnesia, enlarged breasts in men, sudden death, cancer, suicide, hallucinations, rectal bleeding, coughing up blood or what can look like coffee grounds and for women, pregnancy - yes those are a list of the worst. The list of drugs causing liver damage is a very long list with hundreds of names for drugs used for Acne to Toenail Fungus - Opiates were not found on the list I pulled up. I guess my point is, what’s the hang-up with Pot and what’s the DEA afraid of or better yet who or what are they protecting ? If Pot can do what people claim and if Pot can replace a lot of dangerous drugs then it will hurt one big industry I know of - the Pharmaceutical Industry. Imagine being able to grow your own pain medicine in your basement or backyard for just a few dollars a year - seeds are available for nearly every strain sold in the dispensaries. Why are millions of us forced to suffer if Pot will help with our chronic pain and it sure sounds like the test results are in. They take away one drug claiming its too dangerous then they dangle Pot in our face and so far they cant find any real negative side effects from its use - the munchies will not kill us. Pain Patients across the country have no choice if we want to remain in the good grace of our Dr. and the law. Those that live in a state that allows for medical use should try every form and every strain of Pot until you find the combination that helps. I live in Pennsylvania so its still a… Read more »

Judy Jaeger

I’m pretty sure “most” professional athletes, and most Hollywood celebrities, and most other people of wealth & privledge have no problem finding recreational or medicinal cannabis, legal or otherwise ……sure would be nice if some of them would step up to the plate and advocate for people with chronic pain. We all know our government actually listens to the rich & famous.


Well stated Gary Parillo !!


Hear! Hear!!
(And I sure wish the Powers that Be WOULD hear us, and act accordingly!)

Gary Parillo

There are a couple statements in this article,that frankly piss me off.”We don’t know enough because it isn’t studied enough” and,”we can’t yet conclude if it is an effective pain treatment.” Will these people stop insulting the intelligence of the American people! After living almost 64 years,quite frankly I am sick and tired of these GD lies!
I have no personal axe to grind.I haven’t used cannabis for a year now.When I have used it for chronic pain conditions I found it to be very helpful for pain,as have millions of others,for thousands of years.You can conclude it is an effective pain treatment.You just don’t want to conclude such.Do they think the NFL players are lying? Are they calling the millions of Americans who tell them it alleviates pain liars?Are they discounting the research that has been conducted in numerous other countries,and confirm it is beneficial and safe?Do they forget in early America it was sold as medicine in drug stores by pharmacitical companies such as Eli Lilly?Do they not know it was used in ancient China for thousands of years,as medicine.
In spite of the catch 22 that the government created to hinder research,there has been ample research and confirmation in this country as to its analgesic benefits.A former DEA administrative judge by the name of Francis Young,way back in 1988,after reviewing 2 years of medical research,himself stated that it is one of the safest most active therapeutical agents known!
They don’t need more research and they damn well know that.I am one of many who are sick and tired of the hypocrisy and lies and game playing.I am fed up with do nothing useless politicians,who know the truth,but are either to bought off or to cowardly to stop this unconstitutional war against a harmless helpful herb.As these disengenous babbling fools continue to spout the same lies decade after decade,people are still being arrested,families broken apart,and law enforcement resources wasted when there is a real drug epidemic they need to be focusing on.I am sorry or the harsh tone,but I am sick of the lies in a country that is supposed to stand for life,liberty,and pursuit of happiness.And I have no doubt that if our founding fathers,many of whom grew and used cannabis,could come back from the grave,and observe this injustice,they would agree with me one hundred percent.


Insurance doesn’t cover other herbs so probably won’t pay for medical marijuana no matter what schedule they have it on

Carol H

The feds will never change it because than insurance has to pay…dream on

Carol H

Scott Michaels… AGREE…

Sandy Auriene Sullivan

Robin, not all strains are the same which is why Mark Isben mentions street vs medicinal.

My doctor will not allow it’s use for pain [with pain medications] until the FEDS change the schedule. He recently admitted we know more now than 7yrs ago when I first started with him.

While we know and have learned our brains have receptors for cannabis the same as it does for opiods. Meaning our brains have evolved to use both as medicine as both have been used by humans and animals for as long as humans have existed.

Medical strains can reduce the need for opiods a great deal; anecdotally I can add it takes a lot of the neuropathic edge off at night when I was allowed both [before the DEA went nuts on doctors and patients] It helped me through dose decreases and it helped me significantly when I had lost a doctor and had to wait up to 90 days to find another doctor. Two losses were either to personal illness or personal frustrations with a more and more complicated system. [one doc diabetic coma and I found her; the other had his resident work visa threatened; he now does botox injections which is for anyone who can pay for it in cash….]

The Feds need to change the schedule and there’s hope in Congress but Congress isn’t needed to change the schedule Nixon created with his pen; Obama can undo parts of with his pen too. The political will has to be there and it only is if society’s will to not flip out is also there. [addressed to no one in particular; just society as a whole]

Isabel L. Etkind

Marijuana should be available in the Pain Toolbox. However, like other medicines that are prescribed by our doctors it has side effects and allergic reactions are possible. We as a society need all the available medications for pain treatments and our doctors should be able to prescribe what is most likely to be most effective and safest for us individually without the high level of government interference that is now present in medicine. Socio-economic status or type of insurance should not play a role. Those with government insurance are suffering most at this time-Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare(Military) are suffering the most because even those that require these medications are having their dosages cut or being taken off them entirely not as a medical matter but because of Government sanctions and interferences. The Opiate use rate is being driven down by a smoke and mirrors game to give the appearance that something is changing. In reality, Chronic pain patients are being tortured to provide this result. It is morally repugnant and should be illegal as well. It is A major violation of our civil rights to place us in a PAIN HOLOCAUST!!!

Tammy Saporito

I am a Cronic pain sufferer. I have not tried marijuana to relieve my pain. I do know people that have had great success when given the proper type/strain and dosage of weed. NFL players aren’t just smoking to get high, a lot of them are trying to save themselves from the catastrophic effects from concussions. The effects that have caused brain disease as shown in older retired players, as well as young players. The NFL has acknowledged that they have been aware of the effects on the brain, and lied about it for years. There are promising studies being conducted by highly regarded institutions, such as Harvard Medical, that show that marijuana, with or without the THC, actually protects the neurons in the brain. By protecting these neurons, it can help to stop the deterioration of the brain. Sadly, these studies have to fight government red tape because weed is still in the same class as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, ect.. So I don’t think it’s fair to say that players just want to get high! We all know what it’s like to be classified. That our pain isn’t real, we just want to get high.

Mark Ibsen

50% of NHL players use cannabis to recover from games, pain, sleep.

No Harm.

Too bad it did not work for Robin.
Street weed often does not, where medical can.


Nothing works for pain control for every one! Morphine does nothing for me but works to varying degrees for most people. Different strains of marijuana have different properties therefore the effect on individuals can vary greatly. It’s no more right for individuals to say that any given thing doesn’t work for pain control than it is for doctors or government agencies to do the same!

scott michaels

They just want to get stoned too. their pain has been taken care of by the best doctors.

Jo Dawn

“Research in people suggest that certain conditions, such as chronic pain caused by nerve injury, may respond to smoked or vaporized cannabis, as well as an FDA-approved THC drug. But, most of these studies rely on subjective self-reported pain ratings, a significant limitation. Only a few controlled clinical trials have been run, so we can’t yet conclude whether cannabis is an effective pain treatment.”

Interesting. So, patients report less pain, but because it is subjective, the study basically doesn’t count?

The more a doctor listens, the more likely a correct diagnosis and plan of treatment will be achieved. I don’t have a study to back that up, but it seems pretty common sense to me. And until someone invents a “pain-o-meter” that can scan and tell exactly how much pain that particular patient is feeling, then what is left but either believing or not believing the patient?

patients reported less pain,
less prescriptions are needed,
MASSIVE savings shown in states that allow cannabis for medical usage.

But it is still a Schedule 1 drug with no medical benifits.
Obviously patients’ word just isn’t good enough.

Robin Garza

I lost my hand in 2002 my dominant right hand in a Machine that fell on me ever since then I’ve had a thoracic sprain in my back that never goes away my whole body isn’t nothing but chronic pain from arthritis etcetera etcetera I have phantom pain that just blows my mind and as far as medical marijuana no I tried it it did nothing for me but gave me the munchies and that’s all it did and I just knew everybody that knew I was high! So y’all can save your breath on the medical marijuana it does not help pain they just want to get high!!