“As with the league’s broader approach to health and safety, we want to ensure that our players are receiving care that reflects the most up-to-date medical consensus,” said Dr. Allen Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer. “While the burden of proof is high for NFL players who want to understand the impact of any medical decision on their performance, we are grateful that we have the opportunity to fund these scientifically-sound studies on the use of cannabinoids that may lead to the discovery of data-based evidence that could impact the pain management of our players.”
“The NFL-NFLPA Joint Pain Management Committee is thrilled with the results of this process. We received over 100 proposals from top clinicians and researchers from around the world,” said Dr. Kevin Hill, Co-Chair, NFL-NFLPA Joint Pain Management Committee, Director of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “The NFL is eager to advance the science of pain management and performance in an effort to improve the health and safety of the players.”
“Our team is excited to receive this funding to conduct a systematic, ‘real-world, real-time’ study with professional athletes, and which should shed further light upon the many anecdotal reports that cannabis is helpful in reducing post-competition pain,” said Dr. Mark Wallace, co-principal investigator and director of the Center for Pain Medicine at UC San Diego Health.
“The prevention and treatment of concussions is at the core of my research. That’s why I am excited to have the support of the NFL on this project. Our interdisciplinary research team believes that different cannabinoid formulations found in medical cannabis have the potential to benefit athletes suffering from the acute and long-term chronic effects of concussions. Our research will also work to show that cannabinoids can be used as an alternative to opioids for pain management. Ultimately, this study has the potential to change not only the lives of current and former NFL players, but also the lives of anyone who may suffer from a concussion,” said Dr. Patrick Neary, an exercise physiologist and professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina.
While the results of the studies funded under this program may inform alternative pain management strategies, they will have no impact on the jointly administered Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse in place under the current NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Elite professional athletes outside of the NFL will be participating in the studies funded under this award. NFL players are not permitted to participate.