Are you ready for some football?  Big story in the LA Times  9/7/19:  “Will the NFL allow players to use marijuana? League wants Science to determine drug policy. ” It should come as no surprise that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell  is taking refuge behind “More Research is Needed.”

The NFL commissioner serves the interests of the owners (just like the President of the United States).  We know where these gentlemen are at politically because they  have blacklisted Colin Kaepernick for three years, the prime of his career. Their mutual class interest obviously takes precedence over their separate  teams’ interests.  Which means zero tolerance for truly uppity workers.  At upcoming contract talks, when the players’ demand access to marijuana  —a non-opioid analgesic that might protect against traumatic brain injuri— the owner’ game plan will be to stall in the name of Science.

 LA Times reporter David Wharton cites  the seemingly authoritative 2017 NASEM report as an accurate assessment of the state of the science. (The NASEM report disparaged or ignored the voluminous clinical evidence developed by clinicians, as reported in O’Shaughnessy’s.)  Excerpts from Wharton’s LA Times piece follow:

It was last May that NFL executives joined with the players union to announce a series of initiatives aimed at athletes’ well-being.

Each team must now retain a behavioral health clinician to be available for players at the training facility at least eight hours a week. Goodell said: “We’ve long been focused on mental health but this, I think, takes it to another level.”

League and union leaders also created a joint committee to study issues involving therapy for injuries. Teams have been told to designate a pain management specialist and monitor all drugs — including opioids — prescribed to players.

The decision to include cannabis in a study of medical alternatives generated the biggest headlines.

A Gallup poll last fall found that 66% of respondents supported legalization. Eleven states already allow for recreational marijuana, with 33 permitting medical use. But the NFL’s chief medical officer made it clear the league will not be swayed by public sentiment…

A 2017 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine stated that “conclusive evidence regarding the short- and long-term health effects — both harms and benefits — of cannabis use remains elusive.” The same goes for Cannabidiol, or CBD, which has no psychoactive effects…

For now, the NFL has convened sessions with team physicians, athletic trainers and medical experts to discuss all aspects of the player-health initiative. The four members of the pain management committee have met once already and are scheduled to reconvene later this month.

The piece ends with a quote from the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, Allen Sills, MD:

“I think it’s really important that we go where the science takes us here,” Sills said last spring. “Not based on personal anecdote or opinion, but what is the medical science.”

The caption on an accompanying photo of Dr. Sills reads:

“the NFL’s chief medical officer believes more research has to be done to gauge the effectiveness marijuana can have on alleviating pain.”

Thanks to Jeff Meyers for sending the LA Times story. Lack of funds kept us from publishing an important article by Meyers and Tom Banks — “Did NFL players who used MJ get health benefit?“— but we posted it online. Meyers had been a reporter covering  the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1970s; Banks was their star center. Writing in 2017, they  ended with a prediction:

“Extra Point  Considering the NFL’s close ties to the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries, it may take more than a real scientific study to bring back the Golden Age of Ganja.”