NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that if medical experts were ever able to show that medical marijuana could help treat concussions, he would consider allowing players to use it. Goodell’s remarks were similar to his recent comments on the matter.
“I’m not a medical expert,” the commissioner said, via USAToday.com. “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. Our medical experts are not saying that right now.”
But the commissioner remains open-minded about future possibilities.
“I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries, but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine,” he said.
Goodell was appearing at an event Thursday with General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt to announce 16 winners of the $20 million “Head Health Challenge.”
A report on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel Tuesday estimated that between 50%-60% of the league’s players regularly use the drug, many for pain management. The show also interviewed an Israeli doctor who showed how treating mice with head trauma with marijuana showed drastic improvement in their symptoms.
While the league is not willing to reconsider its stance on that potential treatment, they are showcasing a number of potential innovations in diagnosis of head injuries. More than 400 applicants in 27 countries applied for $300,000 awards in the Head Health Challenge, which ended up going to researchers at a mix of 16 private companies and universities.
Currently, the NFL collective bargaining agreement prohibits the “illegal use” of marijuana, even though it was legalized in Colorado on Jan. 1 of this year. Before Goodell’s remarks this month, the league hadn’t weighed in on the matter since November 2012.
“The NFL’s policy is collectively bargained and will continue to apply in the same manner it has for decades,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said at the time. “Marijuana remains prohibited under the NFL substance abuse program.” For now that remains the case. But who knows for how long.
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