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Top NFL Doctors Finally Show an Interest in Medical Marijuana

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In May, Baltimore Ravens’ Eugene Monroe donated $80,000 to researchers studying the potential benefits of medical marijuana for NFL players, and now, it seems his advocacy might be opening the door for the NFL to change its marijuana policy.

According to a recent profile on the offensive tackle in the Washington Post, the NFL has shown some interest in Monroe’s campaign, with Jeff Miller, the league’s senior vice president for player health and safety, and neurological surgeon Russell Lonser, a member of the league’s head, neck and spine committee, speaking last week with the medical marijuana researchers Monroe has funded. League officials reportedly requested the conference call to learn more about the study—which is looking into whether cannabinoids like CBD can help treat sports-related injuries, such as pain, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and traumatic brain injury (TBI)—but made it clear that the call did not mean the NFL was endorsing Monroe’s stance on the subject.

“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,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania school of medicine and co-lead investigator on the study. “They are definitely showing genuine curiosity, and they are definitely not throwing up roadblocks.”

Considering the NFL’s strict anti-cannabis policies, NBC Sports explained that this “mere recognition of the possibility is a huge step for the NFL.” Commissioner Roger Goodell has stood firmly behind the league’s drug policy, stating that he will listen to his doctors but does not foresee a change in the near future.

When asked about the issue of medical marijuana for players and the new research that has been done on the subject back in February, he said, “Yes, I agree there has been changes, but not significant enough changes that our medical personnel have changed their view. Until they do, then I don’t expect that we will change our view.”

However, Monroe, the only active NFL player taking an active role for the cause, might be helping turn the tide.

“To this point, I understand why no one but me as an active player has said anything about it,” Monroe said. “It’s a banned substance in our league. Speaking about it can honestly ruin someone’s career if the wrong team gets wind of it, and has adverse opinions on it. But my health is more important than the opinion of someone who could be my employer now or my future employer. There’s enough anecdotal evidence already to say, ‘Hey listen, we know it’s not toxic. We know it’s safer than what we’re already doing.’ ”

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