NFL Teams Up on Clinical Study Investigating Using CBD
The NFL has partnered with University of Regina researchers in Canada to investigate the potential of cannabidiol (CBD) as a therapeutic for relief. NFL support for the placebo-controlled study reflects the organization’s ongoing commitment to independent research on CBD efficacy as an alternative to opioids.
The funding for the project was first announced in 2022, with the NFL agreeing to spend $1 million on cannabis clinical trials. This clinical trial will have 35 participants who will receive a placebo and a CBD-rich extract. The participants will receive a cannabis dose containing 5 mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight. The CBD amount will slowly increase by 5mg/kg every two weeks until 30 mg/kg body mass is reached. The goal is to determine the optimal daily amount of CBD to take. Participants will have blood and saliva samples taken to analyze CBD bioavailability and how long it lasts, plus undergo other medical and laboratory tests and psychological and health questionnaires.
The NFL is also funding a University of California San Diego trial. The NFL players and other interested parties have a strong interest in finding a non-opioid pain treatment and neuroprotective option. The NFL has supported CBD acceptance for several years. In 2020, the NFL drug testing policy was changed during the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. The policy says players will not be suspended for testing positive for drugs.
Calvin Johnson Jr., former Detroit Lions wide receiver and 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, said,
“I’ve long been an advocate of cannabis as a holistic way to help my body recover from the trauma it faced each day on the gridiron and knew there were many other ways to unleash the power of this plant into our daily lives.”
Other sports organizations are considering or have changed their substance use and testing policies. For example, the National Collegiate Athletic Association will vote in June 2024 on removing marijuana from its list of substances included in drug screenings. It already increased the THC threshold in 2022 to match the World Anti-Doping Agency rules. The National Basketball Association and the Ultimate Fighting Championship have removed marijuana from their respective banned substances lists.
The changing perspectives on THC and clinical trials will undoubtedly and eventually lead to U.S. lawmakers reforming cannabis (all cannabinoids) laws. THC is already legal in many states, and CBD has been proven through many clinical trials to be safe and effective. CBD is considered so safe and effective that the MLB signed a deal with Charlotte’s Web Holdings, making the CBD brand the “Official CBD of MLB.”
Yet, the CBD industry remains in turmoil because of a lack of consistent laws and regulations at the federal level, especially in the area of supplements. It is especially frustrating because CBD is not psychoactive.