The NFL’s chief medical officer says it is “really important” for the league to determine whether players can use marijuana as a pain management tool, the Washington Post reported.
Allen Sills, a Vanderbilt University neurosurgeon, was hired by the NFL in March. Sills told the Washington Post that there is still “more to learn” about marijuana in relation to pain management.
“Certainly the research about marijuana and really more particularly cannabinoid compounds as they may relate to the treatment of both acute and chronic pain, that is an area of research that we need a lot more information on and we need to further develop.
“I think that’s part of what we hope to accomplish together working together with the Players Association,” Sills said. “I think this is really important because I like to talk about that our approach to caring for players is really holistic. We want to talk about health and safety issues that affect the whole player experience. And certainly pain management is a big part of that.”
The league sent a letter to the NFL Players Association in July about collaborating in researching the potential of players using marijuana to manage pain. The association has been conducting its own study and has not yet commented on the NFL’s offer, The Washington Post reported.
Marijuana use is currently banned under the NFL's drug policy, and players face disciplinary action for positive tests.
Sills said the treatment of both acute and chronic pain are societal issues and a “huge public health problem” in light of the nation’s opioid crisis.
“So these are societal issues. But I think that we in professional sports are in a unique position to help inform the public and to do research and really advance our state of understanding about this issue,” Sills said.