Josh Gordon, Marijuana, and another NFL Lawsuit

Josh Gordon will be out for this entire NFL season for having marijuana in his system at some point last season.

Now, he broke a rule, and rules are rules. When you break one, you suffer the consequences. On the other hand, is it a smart rule any longer, given the fact that marijuana is legal in the two states whose teams played in last February’s Super Bowl and an increasing body of research that suggests it is safe or, put differently, has positive effects in certain circumstances?

Last spring, I went to a Sports Law Symposium at the New York School of Law. An ESPN reporter was one of the panelists on a discussion of PEDs and steroids in sports. During the Q&A session I asked something along the lines of: what do you think about the studies that have shown the potential of using marijuana and/or hormones to prevent and treat traumatic brain injuries?

I’m reading the book Think Like A Freak from the Freakonomics guys and one thing they discuss is our society’s inability to say: “I don’t know.” If we’re unwilling to understand that we don’t know everything, we’ll be unwilling to look for more information, different solutions and ideas.

Recently I heard Dr. Mark Gordon on the Joe Rogan Experience, who has done studies on hormone therapy and treating traumatic brain injuries and has seen positive results. Obviously, there is still more research to be done, but here is something I found on his studies in a quick Google search.

Now, attached here is an ABC News link to a report on a study done at Hebrew University in Israel. The study “shows that a cannabinoid, similar to the active ingredient found in marijuana and produced in the brains of many animals, protects mice from brain injury.” I can find a variety of other articles, but you get the point, there is real research being done on marijuana or THC to treat traumatic brain injuries.

Our media is filled with people who just don’t know what they’re talking about, but are really good at spouting the conventional wisdom or the “settled science”. But science doesn’t always settle like we would like it. Take, for instance, the almost 60 year ban on salt intake and eating meats. Many new studies—and resulting books—from credible sources have suggested that such prohibition may be doing more damage than eating salt and eating meat (not to immoderation, as with all things) Or what to make of the global cooling temperatures since 1997 which were not predicted by the global warming models?

I would have applauded the ESPN reporter  if he said: I don’t know  But he chose to respond  sarcastically instead. Due to the fact that he hadn’t done his research, he thought I was a crazy person for even asking that question.  But why not have a discussion on this?

The NFL is in the middle of a new lawsuit: “about 1300 NFL retirees filed a lawsuit accusing the league of illegally handing out painkillers, sleeping pills and other drugs without informing the players of the risks of health problems and addiction.”

Over the last 30 years or so, the NFL has allegedly been distributing performance enhancers to get their players on the field, Toradal, Percocet, Vicodin, anything that would allow them to keep playing while injured. Now players are suffering from addiction, health problems and a variety of issues stemming from drug use during their playing days.

According to the CDC, 55% of all drug overdoses in 2011 were related to pharmaceuticals; of that number, 74% of those deaths were from opiates like Percocet and Vicodin. Just yesterday, CNN published a story stating that medical marijuana laws may reduce painkiller overdoses. Dr. Marcus Bachhuber said, “there was about 25% lower rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths on average after implementation of a medical marijuana law.”

The study shows that in 2010 alone, states with medical marijuana laws had approximately 1,700 fewer overdose deaths than would have been expected based on the numbers before the medical laws were passed.

Let me rephrase that, marijuana saved 1,700 lives from overdoses.  Maybe a smallish sample, but a meaningful enough sample to take notice of.  And, gee, one could argue that marijuana is safer than the drugs the NFL and its teams allegedly handed out, no? .

Who knows, in a few years, we all might look back and conclude that the NFL had better things than marijuana use to monitor and worry about. Maybe we won’t. But, at the very least, we and the NFL should be discussing the potential benefits researchers ascribe to certain usages of marijuana rather than simply spouting the conventional wisdom and punishing according to it.

Zack Moore


Supplements: Onnit