NFL Invests $1M in Cannabis Research, Pain Relief

    • The NFL and NFLPA are investing $1 million in research on the effect of cannabis and cannabinoids on pain relief.
    • The league has historically been conservative on cannabis use.

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Many athletes have embraced cannabis and its therapeutic benefits, and now the National Football League is considering a more open-minded approach.

The NFL and NFL Players Association will provide $1 million in research funding on cannabinoids and pain relief.

While this represents a different stance by the league, it’s still conservative compared to players who use cannabis or cannabis products — particularly CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has gained mainstream acceptance.

  • Four-time Super Bowl winner Rob Gronkowski endorsed a CBD line from Abacus Health Products during his brief hiatus from playing in 2019.
  • Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield endorsed and invested in CBD brand Beam in October. Days later, the NFLPA warned players not to endorse alcohol, tobacco, or cannabinoid brands.
  • Retired NFL players including Joe Montana, Brett Favre, and Marshawn Lynch have all publicly backed CBD or cannabis brands.

The U.S. CBD market was valued at $2.8 billion in February with expected annual growth of 21.2% through 2028.

The NFL suspended players for multiple positive cannabis tests until last year’s collective bargaining agreement. Now, the league limited the window in which it tests players and raised the threshold to trigger a positive THC test.

Players can still be fined several weeks’ salary and forced to join a treatment program for positive tests.