The growing crisis of opioid addiction is by now well known, as is one of the key paths to dependency: prescriptions.
And there’s one group of professionals who are perhaps being prescribed painkillers more than almost any other: Pro athletes.
But with medical marijuana now widely accepted, do we need to keep doping them with dangerous drugs?
LISTEN: Province Newspaper Senior News Editor Paul Chapman on taking marijuana off the banned list
Paul Chapman, Senior News Editor with the Province has been following the issue and says taking pot off the banned list for athletes is at least worth looking at.
He says players already go to extreme measures to control pain, and points to an article by former Baltimore Ravens player Eugene Monroe that paints the picutre.
“Players prior to game line up in front of a doctor with their pants down to get a toradol shot in their butt to basically eliminate pain before it starts during a game.”
He says while anyone can get hooked on painkillers, it’s athletes who are exposed to them on a day to day basis, potentially putting them at huge risk.
But because league rules dictate they stay away from pot products, they’re instead given powerful opiates which carry both the risk of addiction and side effects.
“You’re a fool if you don’t think the NHL is in the same position. These players play, they get hurt, their livelihood depends on them keeping playing so they need a way to manage the pain.”
“If you’re an NHL player and you’re blocking shots, and you’re getting run into the boards and you’re taking shots to the head, and you’ve got to go out and play the next day…. guys are going to do whatever they’ve got to do to get through.”
Chapman says its ironic that the leagues are putting willing to dose their players with such strong drugs, but shy away from marijuana which is not a performance enhancing drug.
“At the very least both the NHL, and the NFL, and frankly all pro sports, I think we can throw the CFL in there as well. They need to look at this as an alternative. There’s a lot of medical science out there.”
Chapman says there’s also interesting research suggesting a compound found in marijuana, CBD, could help either shield brain cells from damage, or even help with recuperation.
That’s something sorely due, he says, as player after player fall to the injury.
“You hear Jim Mcmahon (former QB of chicago bears) speak openly about forgetting the names of his kids, you hear about the same route he takes home every day, losing his way after having driven that for six years and having to call his wife to ask for directions… stories from any number of NFL players who have ended up taking their own lives or suffering a fatal disease… these stories are heartbreaking.”
He says if there’s even a chance the drug could help stave off these tragedies, it’s worth looking into.