The NFL and NFL Players Association have put out a request for information about alternatives to opioids, including CBD, for pain management.
The request for information asks about: “The potential therapeutic role of medications and non-pharmacological interventions that are considered to be alternatives to opioids in routine pain management of NFL players. Medications may include, but are not limited to, cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD).” The league also requested information about “The impact of cannabis or cannabinoids on athletic performance in NFL players.”
The league and the union are asking researchers with experience conducting controlled, experimental studies related to pain management to submit information that may be useful in treating NFL players.
The NFL considers cannabis a banned substance, although the most recent labor deal loosened the rules about players using marijuana. CBD, which comes from cannabis but does not have an intoxicating effect, has been widely promoted as a safer alternative to opioids as a painkiller, and the league and players’ union are working on establishing uniform standards for pain management practices employed by team medical staffs.
The pain management committee of the NFL and the NFL Players Association will provide $1 million in funding for research into pain management and cannabinoids, the committee announced Tuesday.
Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, said another question looms over the use of medical marijuana that the league hopes will be answered with more research: how does using cannabis and CBD to treat pain affect performance in elite athletes?
Up to five grants are expected to be awarded around Thanksgiving.
For years, the NFL suspended players if they tested positive for marijuana multiple times. That changed with the collective bargaining agreement approved a year ago. Now, the league wants to know more about how safe cannabis and CBD are and if they work, particularly as a potential alternative to opioids — an interest that follows broader societal concerns about pain management and the use and risks of powerful opioids.
“There is a need for better information, better science,” Hill said.