Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Should the NFL fund medical marijuana studies?

ProFootballTalk continues its coverage of medical marijuana use and the NFL.  The latest: Harvard Professor (emeritus) and longtime medical marijuana advocate, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, has penned an open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, calling on the NFL to fund studies on whether marijuana might help treat brain injuries (CTE).  

“The extensive research required to definitively determine cannabis’s ability to prevent CTE will require millions of dollars in upfront investment,” Dr. Lester Grinspoon wrote in an open letter to Goodell, via  “[I]t’s highly unlikely that a pharmaceutical company will get involved in studying cannabis as a treatment for CTE, because the plant [and its natural components] can’t be patented.”




Grinspoon’s letter speaks to the fundamental question of whether the NFL will sit and wait for someone else to figure out whether medical marijuana can help treat or prevent CTE, or whether the NFL is sufficiently committed to the health of players to fully explore this and any other possibility.


Here’s hoping the league adopts the spirit of Dr. Grinspoon’s letter, objectively assessing any possible treatment for CTE and spending money as warranted to explore potential vehicles for helping players reverse or prevent its development.

I think Mike Florio's (of ProFootballTalk) comments at the end of the post (and his continued interest in this story) may be as noteworthy as Grinspoon's letter, at least as far as the future of medical marijuana and the NFL.  Florio is among the most prominent NFL reporters right now.  His blog is part of the NBC network and he appears on NBC's flagship Sunday Night Football program.  If Florio continues covering the story of medical marijuana and the NFL the way he has, I think it will go a long way in terms of keeping it in the mind of football fans (and the league.)

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