NFL athletes are at serious risk for suffering Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and one Harvard Medical School professor said marijuana might be the answer. Dr. Lester Grinspoon released an open letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this year, urging him to look at the actual research regarding CTE in athletes and the potential use of cannabis to treat it.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a “progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.” Grinspoon pointed out that marijuana has been scientifically proven to offer neuroprotective properties. The NFL is actively looking for a way to deal with this common and serious injury that has caused many long-term problems and even suicides among football players.
In the letter, Grinspoon told Goodell that current data offered solid evidence that marijuana could prevent CTE, but more research was needed to see how effective it could be for patients at risk for these injuries. “Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data. But unfortunately, the extensive research required to definitively determine cannabis’s ability to prevent CTE will require millions of dollars in upfront investment, and despite the great promise many now see in cannabinopathic medicine, it’s hard to imagine who else has both the motive and the means to provide such funding,” he wrote.
Goodell has responded with a few positive statements about the potential of medical marijuana, but the NFL has not yet pursued any trials as suggested by Grinspoon. Fortunately, Kannalife Sciences is stepping up to the plate and recently gained federal approval to develop and test cannabis-derived medication to treat CTE injuries. Thoma Kikis, the chief visionary officer at Kannalife, said they are primarily focused on how a cannabis-based drug could prevent CTE and treat previous traumas. “We’re really looking at the athlete brain,” he remarked.
The new drug will first have to gain FDA approval and then can begin clinical trials. Kannalife said they expect to start the first trials sometime in 2016. Do you think marijuana could be a life-saving answer for the NFL?