This article by Robert Hoban was originally published on Forbes and appears here with permission.
On June 8th, a commission formed between the NFL and the league’s players’ union, announced that it would award up to $1 million in grants for researchers to investigate the therapeutic potential of marijuana, CBD, and other alternatives to opioids for treating pain.
The cannabis industry has long looked to major league sports as a hallmark for revenue comparison. At the end of the day, major league sports are mainstream businesses. On average, the NFL generates $15-$18 billion annually. The cannabis industry in the United States alone has far surpassed that benchmark.
What the NFL says about cannabis matters. The NFL’s awarding of $1 million in research grants to investigate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids echoes Amazon’s recent announcement nudging the federal government to get its act together.
For decades, federally approved marijuana research in the U.S. has only been allowed at the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) which is part of the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Historically, NIDA’s research mandate has been to reinforce why a substance like cannabis is so deleterious to human beings and society that it should be maintained as a Schedule I controlled substance, defined as having no therapeutic benefit, no medicinal benefit, and a high potential for abuse.
Despite promises of reform in cannabis research, the federal government still can only receive research proposals for controlled substances showing this large potential for abuse and addiction. This has been challenged legally by Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist and former clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Further, in 2017, 12-year-old Alexis Bortell, along with a few other plaintiffs including former NFL lineman, Marvin Washington, sued the federal government for keeping marijuana a Schedule 1 drug. This case was dismissed, but a federal appeals court reinstated it. Two years later, there’s been no official response from the government and the case is still pending. A cannabinoid such as …