A total of $1 million was granted to two medical research teams selected by the National Football League from a pool of 106 proposals to study the effects of cannabinoids on pain management and neuroprotection from concussion in elite football players.
The proposals from the University of California San Diego and the University of Regina in Canada were accepted. The NFL and the NFL Players Association’s Joint Pain Management Committee initiated the proposals in June 2021.

According to NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sill, there is a lot of interest in cannabinoids on pain, but the organization did not believe there was a lot of “great solid research of the benefits of marijuana, CBD and treating acute and chronic pain”. 

The $1 million research grant aims to further understand and improve alternative pain management treatments.

“We’ve heard from the teams, from the medical staffs, from the players loud and clear that they’re interested in cannabis and cannabinoids, and so we wanted to do something that would advance the science in this area so that we could have better-informed conversations with them,” said Dr. Kevin Hill, the Director of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a pre-eminent cannabis researcher and author, is the co-chair of the NFL-NFLPA Joint Pain Management Committee.

The NFL banned the use of Cannabis, and players continue to test for  THC-carboxylic acid, which is the chemical found in marijuana, during the season. Changes under their new Collective Bargaining Agreement prompted Commissioner Roger Goodell and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) to lift the harsh regulations that prohibited the use of marijuana.

Payers who test positive may be fined depending on the number of offenses during the season, but they are no longer suspended. 
Under the new CBA, deal players will not be tested from April 20th to August 9th. 

At UC San Diego, Dr. Thomas Marcotte, Dr. Mark Wallace will lead researchers in the study to investigate the effects of cannabinoids on pain and recovery from sports-related injuries in elite athletes.

Dr. J. Patrick Neary will lead the research team at the University of Regina to study naturally produced cannabinoids for pain management and neuroprotection from concussion and participation in contact sports.

The projects will take three years to conduct.

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