The NFL, a billion-dollar sporting and entertainment enterprise, has recently spent more time in the press for negatives (concussions, lawsuits, youth injuries) than positives (the recent Super Bowl thriller). One might argue that neither Commissioner Roger Goodell nor NFL doctors have much credibility left on player health issues. Yet his comments on cannabis were widely quoted in today's media.
The headline at CBS Sports, "Roger Goodell says NFL still concerned marijuana 'addictive,' 'might not be healthy'" struck a Cannabis-Canard-Chord with the American Cannabis Report because of the startling and archaic claims made by the Commissioner.
We'll give the Commissioner a break and acknowledge that many interviews are edited "for brevity"; that "sound-bytes" are selected while context and depth are sacrificed. We reviewed 6 different articles for this post and NO TWO captured the quotes in the same order, which means NONE are completely accurate. Nevertheless, here are some of Commissioner Goodell's most troubling statements:
"You're ingesting smoke, so that's not usually a positive thing."
Perhaps someone could whisper in Goodell's ear about the vast array of ingestion alternatives now available to medical cannabis patients worldwide.
"It does have an addictive nature"
Addiction is an historically controversial point amongst cannabis advocates, but which we at the American Cannabis Report readily concede. Cannabis IS potentially addictive, and should be handled as such. However, it's important to make the distinction between substances with addiction potential (alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, and opiates) and those with overdose potential, for which cannabis has never been named. This is especially relevant because many of the painkillers currently prescribed by NFL doctors are opiates. (See here or here, paywall on the second one at Washington Post.)
"There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that might not be healthy for players long term. It's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game.
Not healthy compounds? Which ones? Let's name names and have a look at this claim, but not throw out generalized canards about the secret dangers of cannabis. It's just plain irresponsible in 2017. Licensed medical doctors in the 29 US states (plus District of Columbia) that have approved medical cannabis can prescribe it for pain. Every day, CBD and THC are prescribed by doctors for more than 200 medical conditions. His second statement about 'not as simple as feeling better after games'.. well considering the NFL's little opiate issue, that statements got 99 problems and cannabis ain't one.
"We've been studying that through our advisers," Goodell said. "To date, they haven't said, 'This is a change we think you should make that is in the best interest of the health and safety of our players.' If they do, we're certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven't really said that.
Fair point, Commissioner. Cannabis-as-medicine is at a tipping point in the US and worldwide, and its many benefits are not completely understood. And (since it's on Schedule I and not allowed to be studied) there is an unacceptable lack of science on the plant and its components.
The solution: Prohibition and Schedule I - status must end.
In the meantime, the NFL Commissioner's statements do nothing to help NFL players find alternatives to powerful, addictive opiate painkillers. And that's tragic.