This last week my buddy Kaliko was at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo in Los Angeles. Kaliko was there representing this blog, which is something that he does very well. He called me on Friday after he had attended a panel dealing with cannabis and sports. He said it was one of the most powerful things he had ever seen. Many people in the crowd were in tears as former NFL players told their stories.
Playing in the NFL is very rough on a person’s body. It doesn’t take a doctor to understand that when guys weighing over 300 pounds are crashing into you at full speed that it will cause a lot of pain. The longer guys play in the league, the worse off their bodies are after they are done with their playing careers. I know a couple of guys that spent time in the NFL. They were by no means superstars, but they did make it on teams for a handful of years. Their bodies are absolutely thrashed. One of them will never walk the same again.
The NFL has been in the news a lot lately, with news articles and TV coverage about NFL injuries popping up all over the place, especially when it comes to brain injuries. Something that hasn’t received as much attention is the high level of painkiller addiction among current and former NFL players. Painkiller addiction is something that many former football players deal with, whether they made it to the pros or not. Painkillers are handed out like candy in a lot of football programs, which is something that I’ve heard football players say many times. I listen to sports radio 1080 The Fan everyday on my way to and from work, and the ex-football players on there talk about it all the time. It’s a part of football culture. Your knee hurts and you can’t play? Well, lets take you to the locker room, plug you with a needle, and shazam, it’s like you have a whole new knee. Well, at least long enough to finish the game, after that the player is on their own to figure it out.
More and more ex-NFL players are pointing out that using medical marijuana provides a lot of benefits that painkillers do, but without the nasty side effects. Medical marijuana has been proven to help pain management, and has showed a lot of promising evidence that marijuana can also help people that have suffered brain injuries. Kaliko explained to me that there was a lot of talk on the panel at the event about the desire to start treatment facilities in medical marijuana states for ex-NFL players that are suffering from horrific levels of addiction and health issues. There is also going to be a big push to bring more awareness to painkiller addiction in sports, and how cannabis can help people beat those addictions.
I think it’s going to be a very significant thing for the movement. I think specifically of people like my father-in-law. He’s not particularly against marijuana, but he definitely is a product of his generation, which involved reefer madness, Richard Nixon’s administration, etc.. I know that many people have talked to him about using medical marijuana because he hurts from head to toe after a long career as a construction worker. But he is stubborn, and won’t even consider using medical marijuana because he has been told his entire life that it has no medical value and is highly addiction, blah blah blah. But he is a very, very big football fan. I can’t wait to show him video footage of football players that he has admired for a long time, and to see his reaction when he hears their stories of sadness and sorrow caused by painkiller addiction, and how medical marijuana saved their lives.
It’s one thing to just do (or not do) what you’re told because you were told it all your life. It’s easy for some people to disregard medical marijuana because it’s just something that they have read about, but don’t have a personal connection to it in anyway. It’s much different when you see someone you admire and respect, and have them tell you about their personal experience with medical marijuana. It’s powerful stuff, and it changes minds. NFL players are icons and role models to many, and they have an enormous platform from which they can tell their personal stories. The magnitude of an awareness campaign on that level cannot be understated. Whether you watch NFL football or not, I hope that we can all agree on that point. This is amazing for the movement, and amazing for patients.