For years now, NFL players have been singing the praises of CBD oil. Many report using it for pain and inflammation, both pre and post-game. Others use it for general health in wellness. Others, both retired and currently playing, endorse, support, invest in, or even run their own CBD companies.
However, until recently, NFL players weren’t technically allowed to use it. The NFL refused to recognize it as a viable, permissible, form of pain relief.
But things are changing and there seems to be hope on the horizon. So, what’s the current status of CBD in the NFL and where are things heading in the future?
CBD in the NFL
Initially, the NFL banned CBD outright, noting it’s cannabis origins, and the fact that it was indistinguishable from marijuana, particularly in drug tests. Players who tested positive or who endorsed CBD could find themselves in seriously hot water.
Thanks to increased pressure, in 2019, the NFL announced plans to study marijuana and its cannabinoids, including CBD, to better determine its value for pain management. In 2020, the League also created a Pain Management Committee to meet with manufacturers of CBD and gather research into its therapeutic benefits.
During this period however, the ban on many CBD products remained in place. Players still were not permitted to take advantage.
The NFL Players Association even updated its policy to discourage athletes from endorsing products that contain CBD or other cannabinoids as recently as October 2020. Their press release noted, “NFL players, coaches, and other employees must not endorse or appear in advertisements for alcoholic beverages, tobacco, or cannabinoid products.”
And although it looked like things were changing with regard to research, even after the initial fact-finding mission, the league said that there wasn’t enough research and information available to support claims regarding CBD’s efficacy.
In many cases, this would have been enough to take things off the table. Luckily for NFL players, it wasn’t.
NFL Wants More Research
The first major change came in late 2020. According to the 2020 collective bargaining agreement, those who test positive for cannabis don’t face suspension. So, now, players can use CBD oil without fear of stiff penalties.
But that’s not the end of the story – not by a long shot.
In February, the NFL and NFL Players Association put out a request for information about alternatives to opioids, including CBD, for pain management. These organizations have asked researchers with experience conducting controlled, experimental studies related to pain management to submit information that may be useful in treating NFL players.
The request asked about “The potential therapeutic role of medications and non-pharmacological interventions that are considered to be alternatives to opioids in routine pain management of NFL players. Medications may include, but are not limited to, cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD).” The League also asked for info on how the use of cannabis or CBD might impact athletic performance.
Based on this, we can only assume that good things are in the works. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.