NFL players say medical marijuana should be alternative to painkillers, new survey finds.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Oxycodone and hydrocodone are among the opiate-based painkillers that 91 percent of current and former NFL players say they’ve either ingested or had injected. A new survey finds that the vast majority players are open to a potential new remedy: medical marijuana.

The 38-page survey of 152 National Football League players was conducted under the leadership of BudTrader.com CEO Brad McLaughlin, who created the questionnaire with the help of a panel of experts, including doctors specializing in pain management and drug counseling. BudTrader, an online medical marijuana marketplace, aimed the study at uncovering problems the league has with prescription, chemical painkillers.

The survey found 89 percent of players believe that medical marijuana could be used effectively to treat pain and 87 percent say they believe the NFL should allow safe access to medical marijuana as a treatment option for players in states where it’s legalized.

NFL players say medical marijuana should be alternative to painkillers, new survey finds.
NFL players say medical marijuana should be alternative to painkillers, new survey finds.

The league’s rules on marijuana are strict. Positive or missed drug tests can result in suspensions and fines. This rule applies across all of the league’s franchises, including in California, Colorado, and Washington, where medical marijuana has been legalized even under conflicting federal laws.

McLaughlin said he was inspired to start the project after he spoke to a current player who detailed the addiction struggles of his teammates — and the league at large — with highly-prescribed chemical painkillers.

“These guys are national heroes, yet they are being given harmful and addictive substances by league doctors so that they can have a good day on the field,” says McLaughlin in a press release. “The saddest thing is that there’s a better alternative — but the league is senselessly dragging their feet on allowing medical marijuana for therapeutic use for players. It’s causing a lot of harm, and a lot of players are really unhappy with the state of things. Our survey shows that.”

Nearly 70 percent of players answered yes to the question: “At any point were you concerned about your painkiller use?”

Seventy percent of players also said they had self-medicated at some point in their career to cope with stress, anxiety or pressure. And 81 percent said they had used alcohol or prescription drugs including xanax, valium and barbiturates.

And citing a pushy league and locker room mentality, 45 percent of players surveyed said they have felt pressured into using chemical painkillers by team doctors, staff, and teammates.

Former NFL player Marvin Washington was quoted as saying, “If there’s one sport that should legalize medical cannabis, it’s professional football.”

McLaughlin says the survey is a clear indication the league needs to usher in acceptance and legalization.

“Our survey shows that without a doubt, NFL players want and need to be able to use medical marijuana to manage pain,” says McLaughlin. “At this point, any doctor you ask will tell you that marijuana is extremely effective for pain management, and that there is literally zero risk of physical dependency.”

About Benjamin Fearnow

Mr. Fearnow has written for Newsweek, The Atlantic & CBS during his New York City-based journalism career. He discusses tech and social media topics on cable news networks.

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