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Among Pro Athletes, Cannabis Takes the Spotlight at CWCBE Concussion and CBD Panel

Image Courtesy of Chloe Sommers

Former all-pro NFL defensive lineman, Leonard Marshall, and his seven-man bench of former professional athletes and scientists took to the stage at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo in New York City last week to discuss the risk of traumatic brain injuries. Since the discovery of the neurodegenerative disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE, many athletes and scientists have come together, much like this panel, to educate industry leaders and the media as to what research is going on surrounding cannabinoids and the brain.

If you don’t know cannabinoids, it’s a group of chemical compounds found only in natural cannabis (Cannabis sativa). According to British biopharmaceutical company, GW Pharma, more than 60 different cannabinoids have so far been identified but the role and importance of many of these has yet to be fully understood. Leonard Marshall believes the plant can help everyone. “All we hope for in life for our loved ones, in sports…is attainable in that we embrace the opportunity to change the way the games are played and viewed,” said the former NFL player and co-founder of Brain Unity Trust. Jim McMahon also joined him on stage to lend his support for cannabis over pills. Cannabinoids now play a major role in their lives in terms of total wellness. Marshall specifically mentioned that opiates are not the answer to the pains of football, “because the body gets used to it” and patients just keep taking more and more of them.

Nate Jackson spent most of his time in the NFL playing for the Denver Broncos. An outspoken cannabis supporter, he said he believes that cannabis protected his brain from injury throughout his football career. “I started using in high school…I believe cannabis protected my brain in advance of those injuries,” he said. Now about to release his second book, Fantasy Man: A Former NFL Player’s Descent into the brutality of Fantasy Football, which has the words “way too much weed” on the book cover, Jackson continues his streak of brutal honesty that began with his first book called Slow Getting Up. “[Cannabis] can help everyone,” he said. 

Nate Jackson’s second book is available on 9/20/2016.

Fellow panelist, Eben Britton lamented his struggles in the NFL locker room. “You’re going to do what it takes to stay on the team,” he said. The theme echoed on stage, that players should have a choice when it comes to their medication. “In the locker room, you listen to coaches who threaten to replace you with younger talent.” Charlie Adams, former Denver Bronco agreed and added, “it helps my being physically and my mind.”

The CTE scare reaches far beyond just football. Professional NHL hockey athlete, Riley Cote used to play for the Philadelphia Flyers. He spoke about his cannabis use, “I realized when I got older that I was doing a favor for myself, it’s a medicine for all. It can increase the quality of life…and I believe in the plant, and that its sacred.” Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, Ph.D works from the University of Pennsylvania on MAPS’ clinical study of medical marijuana for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in U.S. military veterans. “There are widespread implications and reason to get this work done as quickly as possible,” he said with urgency. Bonn-Miller works on the federally approved PTSD and cannabis study with the program’s original primary researcher, Dr. Sue Sisley. Veterinary issues look similar…think of this beyond the NFL, said Dr. Bonn-Miller.