CANNABIS IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS

In the past several decades, many different leaders have emerged across the world when it comes to improving public attitudes towards marijuana. Certain national and state governments, nonprofit organizations, and dedicated individuals are to credit for the progress that has been made to rehabilitate the reputation of cannabis across the Western World. The unfortunate flip side of this coin is that there are plenty of organizations and persons who continue to wage an unwinnable war against this move towards a more sensible future of marijuana policy.

As a biotechnology company that specializes in a pharmaceutical delivery system employing encapsulated NanoGels™ to deliver a rapid and consistent relief via cannabis, we at Evolve Formulas have strong beliefs that athletes who experience pain should be allowed to experiment with marijuana for pain relief. Sports, especially at the professional level, are a part of our everyday lives. Even those of us who are not personally invested in our hometown football team understand the power that professional sports leagues have in our society. They are potent influencers, taste-makers and commercial behemoths that rake in billions of dollars in revenue every year. They advertise the products that we use, endorse the politics that we vote for and provide role models for the younger generations that are to come.

Big sports organizations like the National Football League, National Basketball League, and Major League Baseball, operate in the same way that corporations do. Their bottom line is to keep tickets moving out the door and advertising dollars rolling in, often at the expense of sensible policies concerning player conduct. For striking evidence of this, we can look no further than the ongoing scandal concerning head trauma. The NFL, along with other major sports organizations, have understood for years the serious effects of head trauma, all the while sweeping the information out of the public eye at the expense of their players’ health.  

One of the most glaring cases of this hypocrisy in the world of pro sports comes from NFL Pro Bowler Marcellus Wiley. Like so many professional athletes, Wiley suffered from devastating physical pain on a week-to-week basis. At the advice of team doctors, he was routinely administered Toradol, a potent anti-inflammatory that allowed him to lace up his shoes on game day in spite of his pain. A lifelong sufferer from asthma, Wiley never had the negative consequences of Toradol explained to him by team doctors, ultimately suffering from renal failure later in life, most likely as a result of the weekly cocktail of prescription drugs that kept him on the field.

Stories like this one do not paint a favorable picture of what sports organizations are and are not willing to risk when it comes to using seriously powerful prescription drugs. A 2017 report by the Washington Post highlighted routine abuse of prescription drugs in the NFL, a problem that was facilitated by the league. The story includes the release of court documents which revealed, “National Football League teams violated federal laws governing prescription drugs, disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances, and plied their players with powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories each season, according to sealed court documents contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players.”

Considering the financial incentive to keep athletes on the field, it is safe to say that this is a problem that runs through the world of professional sports, not just the NFL. And yet, we still live in a world where athletes are routinely suspended, fined and ostracized for having used marijuana to treat their pain. Nick Diaz, a former mixed martial arts world champion in two organizations, has been suspended on multiple occasions for using cannabis, losing years of his career and tens of thousands of dollars in the process. The irony of this comes into full view when you consider that Diaz has faced fighters who have tested positive for steroids, many of whom received similar suspensions and fines.

The logic here is simple, and it is becoming more clear every day as more countries and states push towards legalization. Cannabis has legitimate, testable, positive effects on human health and wellbeing. It is a natural substance without single historical proof of physical overdose, and its long-term physical side-effects are nowhere near comparable to prescription drugs or alcohol. Professional sports leagues have an obligation to acknowledge these realities and adapt their policies accordingly, for the sake of honesty and player safety. Will cannabis ever be allowed among professional athletes and sports organizations in the U.S.? Unfortunately, we have a long way to go, but we at Evolve Formulas are ready.


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