The NFL has reportedly indicated it may consider allowing players to use medical marijuana, particularly if the drug could help expedite recovery from concussions.
In a Thursday morning tweet, Dan Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal wrote that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might shift his position on the drug, with one caveat: Its use would have to be backed by science.
Goodell says if medical experts ever say medical marijuna would help with concussions then would consider allowing it.
— daniel kaplan (@dkaplanSBJ) January 23, 2014
"I'm not a medical expert. We will obviously follow signs. We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that," Goodell added to USA Today. "Our medical experts are not saying that right now."
Goodell said in an interview earlier this month that the NFL might reverse its stance on medical marijuana, but this is the first time he's specifically mentioned its application for concussions, a practice that might hold some value.
According to an earlier report published in Trends in Molecular Medicine, some endocannabinoids found in plants have been linked to "neuroprotective effects following brain injury," though researchers caution the "mechanisms of neuroprotection ... are not yet clear."
The league's substance abuse policy currently makes no allowance for marijuana use of any kind, regardless of the drug's varying legality from state to state.
The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, this year's Super Bowl contenders, both hail from states which recently legalized recreational marijuana.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Mason Tvert, the communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, and a key backer of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana for adults in Colorado, encouraged the NFL to go further.
"It's time for the NFL to catch up with public opinion and, in many states, the laws surrounding medical marijuana," said Tvert. "There is a mountain of evidence demonstrating the medical benefits of marijuana in the treatment of chronic and severe pain, and it is irrational to steer these players toward using more harmful medications like opiate painkillers. Marijuana is not only less addictive and less harmful to the body than prescription narcotics, it is less addictive and less harmful than alcohol -- a substance long embraced by the NFL."