Relationship Between NFL and CBD Products

CBD Products & The NFL PART 1

The paths of the National Football League (NFL) and chemical compound, cannabidiol (CBD) have been rapidly merging. Recently, a committee of experts was formed by the league to investigate if CBD is beneficial enough to allow use amongst active players.

Unfortunately, league officials were not swayed and declared that more evidence and information on CBD consumption is required to treat players medically. As knowledge about cannabis is expanding, the NFL will continue to monitor the process, possibly with adjustments to the league’s drug policy on marijuana use in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement.

These decisions have been required for some time since medical officials for the league’s NFL-NFLPA Pain Management Committee took part in a meeting discussing benefits for players with CBD manufacturers intent on providing scientific proof. Manufacturers were questioned on the scientific evidence of the compound and how their particular product was effective enough to be a viable option for relieving all types of pain. Players, past and present, had called for a change resulting from the common abuse of legal prescription opioids, which has become an epidemic throughout the country, not just amongst sports players.

The committee was responsible for relaying an informed opinion to all the teams about the emerging evidence of CBD helping players with managing pain resulting from sustained injuries. Following that meeting, all teams’ medical personnel were sent two white papers which concluded that CBD shows promise in the treatment of brain injuries. However, it also highlights that the CBD industry operates largely unregulated which casts doubt on the origin of the products. In turn, the quality of the product is in question, including whether or not it contains THC. The use of such a product would produce a positive drug test and violate the league drug policy. CBD originates from the cannabis plant, as well as the psychoactive chemical THC, both of which are banned in the current league drug policy.

Doctors Endorse Using CBD Prior To Games

The memo also included information from small controlled trials of cannabis and separate FDA-regulated cannabinoids, or chemicals that are contained within a cannabis plant. The study’s results were concluded to be mainly from animal species.  The two FDA treatments are synthetic, and not natural. The committee relayed concerns that arise from having short-sighted trials without repetitive results, especially with the lack of continual observation on clinical patients. Subsequently, the forum was noted to have been established only as an “educational and scientific exercise” conducted by the league. The second white paper reiterated that cannabis is a banned substance with short-term and long-term effects including “acute impairment of driving, addiction, and exacerbation of psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety.”

Ryan Vandrey, PhD, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who has researched CBD believes the NFL hadn’t put in enough effort to understand evidence of CBD’s effects. “There’s very clear interest from the player perspective,” he said. “It’s going to be very difficult to prevent players from using CBD or hemp products because they are now federally legal and there is nothing to suggest that it is performance-enhancing.”

Dr. Vandrey also disagreed with the NFL committee’s view on the risk of CBD products that may contain impure qualities. With hemp legalized in December 2018, hemp-derived, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-certified CBD is now available. The NFL could have been a pioneer by assisting the research done on athletes with a variety of injuries by allowing voluntary clinical trials for players who are interested in the effects of CBD.  Thus, the league would have been able to confirm the purity of its players’ products, as well as participating in first-hand research.

CBD For Football Needed

He was in agreement with the fact that all the effects of CBD have not been clinically established for athletes, but emphasized that the initiative must be taken first. “They are absolutely right in that sense that there is no compelling data to show that CBD is going to be an effective therapeutic for NFL athletes because there have been no controlled clinical trials of CBD use by athletes,” Dr. Vandrey said. “I completely agree that there is not enough evidence to recommend CBD use by NFL players. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be explored. The science should be done.”

With states relaxing their laws and violations for marijuana and even the start of prescribed medical marijuana, the league is just coming to the grips of everyday reality.  Despite Major League Baseball dropping cannabis from its’ list of banned substances in December 2019, the NFL has disregarded the facts presented to them and turned a blind eye to the beneficial evidence of CBD.