The NFL is Dropping the Ball on Pain Management

My 3 back surgeries showed me that the NFL’s cannabis policy is backwards.

I think we all gasped at that Carson Wentz hit in the Eagles vs Seahawks game this past Sunday. We’re in the thick of the NFL postseason and as the league’s top players match-up at the highest level of competition, pain and pain management are a discussion the organization needs to be having.

With the end of the season approaching, the organization, teams and decision makers are getting ready to discuss rule changes for the 2020 season. Here’s the biggest one that they should, and will, be discussing: Cannabis.

It should come as no surprise that cannabis is a topic of discussion as it becomes legalized in more states. The MLB, which already didn’t test players for cannabis regularly like the NBA or NFL, removed it from the banned substances list at the end of the year.

The biggest concern within the NFL organization, which they have been outspoken about, is proving the medicinal benefits of marijuana. That makes the biggest priority for players and advocates (and those who are both) proving how well the drug helps them manage their pain.

We need to remove excuses from professional leagues, by giving them the transparency, giving them the science behind it, showing them that this is no different than any other medication that they would prescribe.

Since what they’re prescribing right now is crap. Highly addictive painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet.

Multiple studies have proven the negative impact of opioids on the league. Over 52% of retired players report opioid use during their career, 71% reporting misuse of those opioids. Yet the pills are pushed on them, over pot.

The league couldn’t oppose cannabis if they were shown that it is reliable, consistent and used for purpose. Cannabis companies need to deliver products that users and decision makers can trust as reliably as Advil. That comes down to precision, cultivating cannabis that is specifically for pain management.

That’s why I am at the forefront of leading a cannabis company that is developing cannabis that’s based in science and cultivation, precision and purity.

And while the NFL claims to need “time” to research the medical impact of marijuana, no one else seems to. Michigan is putting the first $20 million made on cannabis taxes to medical marijuana research, to see what else can be discovered. And if what some NFL veterans say is true and between 50–89% of the league smokes pot for pain management, then they’ve figured it out too.

I figured it out a long time ago, when 3 back surgeries sidelined me from the sport I love and sent me down a dangerous path with opioids.

My first back injury was at 19. I was recruited to play football at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In high school, I had injured my back and was already experiencing chronic pain. Sure enough, despite being in peak physical shape, I reinjured my back at practice and was honorably discharged so I could go home and get the surgery I needed.

I recovered rapidly, and was able to go to prep school for a year in hopes of playing and being re-recruited. There, I was introduced by doctors to opioids as a pain relief option. This was 1989, well before we were aware of the incredibly negative effects of these drugs. The first few times I took them, I felt like I was in another state of mind. But no relief.

My commitment to getting back in shape paid off, through other treatments and pain management, and I was recruited by Columbia University in New York. I completed a full season of play, but my back was a complete mess. Once again, I was prescribed another set of painkillers.

And once again, thankfully, they didn’t work. I was sick to my stomach. I vomited several times. But I was in college, and wanted to get back to playing the game I loved. I started my sophomore season believing I was in top physical shape. Within a week of practice, my back pain was debilitating, and I couldn’t carry on. I left the team and football that day.

But my back pain didn’t go away. Around this time, I was introduced to cannabis. It didn’t take me long to catch on that every time I smoked, I felt relief. Without the side effects I got from opioids.

People in chronic pain will try anything offered if it pledges to give them even the slightest relief from the pain. Cannabis is likely the least dangerous and harmful alternative to current treatment.

Former players recognize how dangerous the system is now. Behind the scenes, locker rooms have opioids readily available for those trying to manage pain. Former superstar Calvin Johnson had this to say: “You really could go in the training room and get what you wanted. I can get Vicodin, I can get Oxy[contin]. It was too available. I used Percocet and stuff like that.”

We are advocating professional athletes to use prescription drugs just so they can play another down, take another snap, make money, create ad revenue, keep the audience happy. All the while they are destroying their bodies, their families, friends and creating habits that will eventually land them in their own grave.

I won’t stand for it.

NFL, it’s finally time to stop dropping the ball on pain management.

Joe Ori. Trial Lawyer | Cannabis Advocate | Entrepreneur |Father of four Doing “the right thing,” my way.

Trial Lawyer, Cannabis Advocate, Entrepreneur. Father of four. Doing “the right thing,” my way. 😎