Former Jets DE Marvin Washington Says NFLPA Will Have To Lead Marijuana Charge


Marijuana reform is coming to the NFL, Marvin Washington says, but it won’t be led by Roger Goodell or his medical advisers.

The push to embrace cannabis as a brain and pain medication, the longtime Jets defensive end says, will come from the NFL Players Association.

“Whenever there is a safety issue in any industry that needs to be addressed, it always comes from the union,” says Washington, who was with the Jets for eight seasons during the 1990s. “Guys are self-medicating with opiates. These guys need help.”

Washington, 50, is part of a budding movement that is calling on the NFL to embrace marijuana as an alternative to dangerously addictive painkillers that many former players abuse long after they have left the game. Washington and other former players also want the NFL to fund research that will examine cannabis’ potential to prevent concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain-eating disease linked to the suicides of Junior Seau and Dave Duerson.

Washington, who has worked in finance since retiring from the NFL following the 1999 season, was one of the early leaders of the NFL’s marijuana movement. He wrote a Huffington Post column in January 2015, along with fellow NFL retirees Scott Fujita and Brendon Ayanbadejo, that called for the league to take the lead on marijuana research. Cannabis has already been proven to effective in managing pain and in treating epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and inflammation as well as other ailments.

“The NFL has a safety issue that needs to be solved by science and technology,” says Washington, who also played with the Broncos and 49ers. “The NFL has to look at the cannabis plant. The NFL has to follow the science.”

Washington says he uses vaporized cannabidiol, a compound found in the marijuana plant that doesn’t get users high, on a daily basis. Many players say cannabidiol helps with headaches, depression, mood swings and other byproducts of brain injuries.

“It’s like my cup of coffee,” Washington says. “I vape in the morning and then I go to the gym. It is what focuses me.”

Washington worked for several years with Kannalife, a Long Island company that is developing cannabis-based drugs it hopes will prevent concussions or minimize the damage from head injuries. He’s currently developing a line of edibles, topical creams and vaporizing products with a well-known marijuana celebrity he doesn’t want to identify publicly until the business is launched.

Washington is also working with a Swiss company called Isidiol that has launched a CBD water that is safe for NFL players and other athletes who face drug testing to use.

“This industry hasn’t really gotten off the ground yet,” Washington says. “We are in our infancy. But five or 10 years from now…there is a lot of potential.”

Washington says he prefers a pharmaceutical approach to medical marijuana use. Using cannabis in pill or liquid form, he says, means users can control dosages. “Smoking a joint, how can you regulate that?” he says, laughing.

Union executive director DeMaurice Smith and other NFLPA officials have said very little publicly about marijuana’s medical potential, and a Players Association spokesman declined comment for this story.

But Washington says officials from the union, which will have to approve any changes to the NFL’s collectively bargained drug policy, have privately expressed interest in cannabis as an alternative to painkillers and its ability to prevent or minimize concussions.

“The union is the one that pushed the NFL to raise the threshold for THC,” Washington says, referring to the 2014 move to increase the level of the marijuana compound in urine samples required to trigger positive tests.

Washington says the NFL should immediately grant therapeutic use exemptions to players who live in Colorado, Washington and the two dozen other states that have legalized the recreational and medical use of marijuana. “The NFL already gives TUEs for Adderall and Ritalin,” Washington says. “It should consider granting TUEs for marijuana, too.”

“We knew when we left the game we would have orthopedic injuries, but we didn’t know we would have brain injuries for the rest of our lives,” he adds. “I don’t want to kill football, I want to make it safer – with marijuana.”

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Full Article: Former Jets DE Marvin Washington Says NFLPA Will Have To Lead Marijuana Charge
Author: Michael O’Keeffe
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