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NFL grants $1 million to investigate cannabis's effects on pain and neuroprotection



Photo: DR |

A NFL – National Football League (American Football League) announced yesterday the award of $1 million in funding to research the effects of cannabinoids on pain management and neuroprotection from concussion in professional football players. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Regina, Canada, will now use the funds to improve potential alternative treatments in the pain management of NFL players. Several athletes use cannabinoids to recover from sports-related injuries.

These grants are the conclusion of the first call for research proposals executed by the NFL-NFLPA Joint Pain Management Committee in June 2021, which resulted in 106 applications.

Clinical trials with cannabis
Using the National Institutes of Health (NIH) format to score proposals, the NFL's Research and Innovation Committee narrowed the finalists to ten proposals to give oral presentations and provide written materials to the Committee. In the end, the NFL awarded the total of $1 million to two clinical trials:

(1) “Effects of cannabinoids on pain and recovery from sport-related injuries in elite athletes: a randomized clinical trial” led by Drs. Thomas Marcotte and Mark Wallace, with colleagues at the University of California, San Diego.
The primary objective of this clinical trial is to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy and adverse effects of combined ∆-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and THC/CBD, compared to placebo, for post-operative soft tissue injury pain relief. -competition in elite athletes. Athletes will vaporize treatments following game-related injuries, with results monitored via remote phone apps. Bringing together a research team with decades of experience in clinical cannabis research and an infrastructure provided by the Medical Cannabis Research Center, the findings of this study will provide important preliminary data on the possible effectiveness of cannabinoids for sports where related injuries exist and inform future studies on study design and implementation challenges.

(2) “Naturally produced cannabinoids for pain control and neuroprotection from concussion and participation in contact sports”, led by Dr. J. Patrick Neary and researchers at the University of Regina, Canada.
The specific objective of this project is to determine whether cannabis/hemp-based cannabinoids, i.e. cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can be used safely and effectively for pain management and reducing medication use. drugs, including opioids, postoperatively and in athletes with concussion syndrome. An additional objective is to evaluate the neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids to reduce the incidence or severity of acute and chronic concussion in professional soccer players. Our research team of cerebrovascular and neurophysiologists, clinical psychologists, pharmacokinetics, and physicians at the Universities of Regina, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, Canada, have extensive experience in concussion pathology and medical cannabis research. Our project will provide a basis for exploring alternative medical care related to brain trauma and chronic musculoskeletal pain for professional football players.

Cannabinoids as an alternative for pain management
"We want to ensure that our players receive care that reflects the most up-to-date medical consensus," he said in Press release Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer. “While the burden of proof is high for NFL players who wish to understand the impact of any medical decision on their performance, we are grateful that we have the opportunity to fund these scientifically sound studies of cannabinoid use, which could lead to the discovery of evidence-based evidence that may affect our players' pain management.”

Kevin Hill, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Vice President of the NFL-NFLPA Joint Pain Management, said, “The NFL is eager to advance the science of pain and performance management in an effort to improve health and player safety”.

While the results of studies funded by this program may inform alternative pain management strategies, they will have no impact on the current Substance Abuse Policy and Program, so only elite professional athletes outside the NFL will participate in the studies. funded. NFL players are not allowed to participate.

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