NFL Needs To Legalize Marijuana

By Sam Horn
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL reported 217 concussions in 2012, including the preseason. Linebackers who play at the professional level have the ability to smash a running back with the same force of a small truck. How are players supposed to cope with deadly collisions that occur on a regular basis? The answer is simple: marijuana.

Concussions are a major problem in the NFL and they will not magically fade away. The time to research the positive benefits of medicinal marijuana is now because it can help players cope today with severe head injuries.

When a player suffers a concussion, an excessive amount of neurotransmitters called glutamates are released into the brain, causing unwarranted damage. Cannabinoids, a major ingredient in marijuana, work as antioxidants to prevent a concussion from getting worse by neutralizing the glutamate activity. Thus, marijuana acts as an effective pain reliever.

If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wastes any more time on deciding whether or not to allow players to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, it could end up costing players their lives.

In an interview with USA Today, Goodell said, “I’m not a medical expert. We will obviously follow signs. We will follow medicine and if they determine this [medical marijuana] could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that. Our medical experts are not saying that right now.”

What are the NFL medical experts saying about marijuana right now? It’s not as if they haven’t seen enough evidence to conclude that the use of medicinal marijuana can help football players recover from concussions symptoms. A recent study in the journal Cerebral Cortex showed that in mice, “marijuana lessened the bruising of the brain and helped with healing mechanisms after a traumatic injury.”

Lester Grinspoon, a Harvard professor emeritus of psychiatry and supporter of marijuana, recently wrote a letter to Goodell. Grinspoon said the NFL should stop testing players for marijuana and allow players to use it in order to recover from concussions. He also said that the league should start funding research into marijuana’s ability to protect the brain.

Goodell can’t wait for esteemed medical professionals to figure out if medical marijuana will truly benefit NFL players with concussions. The time to act is now. The use of medicinal marijuana will not cause the number of concussions to decrease, but it does have the potential to help NFL players recuperate from devastating concussions. Use your head on this one, Goodell.

Sam Horn is a Seattle Seahawks writer for Follow him on Twitter @samhorn7 and “Like” him on Facebook.

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