He’s one of the very few active NFL star players to advocate publicly for medical cannabis, and now he’s putting his money where his mouth is. Eugene Monroe, offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, has just donated $80,000 to fund medical cannabis research that focuses on football players at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University.
Previously, Monroe has actively encouraged the NFL to at the very least remove cannabis from its list of banned substances. Monroe wants players to be able to treat chronic pain from their work on the gridiron.
Monroe sees medical cannabis as an answer to an epidemic of opioid addiction in the league. He’s tired of seeing teammates and friends battle with painkiller addictions.
“As a player I’m not allowed to use cannabis, but I’ve been prescribed opioids for various injuries,” Monroe said in an interview Thursday evening. “The opiates work, but they’re very dangerous and highly addictive.”
Researchers at these two major research schools are also interested in the possibility of cannabis being used to treat the brain injuries NFL players receive.
Some of Monroe’s $80,000 donation will help fund three ongoing research projects at Penn. One of the studies is looking at the therapeutic use of cannabinoids. A second study is examining cannabis as a treatment for PTSD in veterans and football players. The third is testing CBD oil as a controlled way to reduce seizures in children with extreme forms of epilepsy.
But most of the eighty grand donated by Monroe will go toward investigating pain and brain injury in current and retired football players.
So far, studies have found some “moderate,” but not conclusive evidence that the THC cannabinoid can efficiently respond to neuropathic pain.
In Israel, a country many believe will blaze trails in medical cannabis research, a clinical trial with 176 chronic pain patients found that cannabis improved pain in the long term and significantly reduced dependence on painkillers.
As an active player who has suffered from injuries on the field, and who is outspoken against the league’s policies, Monroe’s future as a Raven is uncertain. He’s missed 16 games in the last two seasons due to shoulder injuries.
But as long as he’s playing, Monroe will continue to change the culture around cannabis in the NFL.
“This is an issue that goes beyond any personal career implications. I understand why other players may be adverse to speaking out, but our health is worth it.”
(Photo Credit: HNGN)