Last week, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr made waves when he admitted to using medical cannabis for pain management. Kerr made it clear that his use was strictly medicinal. He admitted that it did not help his back pain as he hoped. His admission was designed to bring attention to the complications of frequent opiate-based painkiller use that plagues pro sports players.
The quick fix to pain
In a nutshell, medical cannabis should be an option in professional sports. Instead of resisting the societal movement towards cannabis use for pain, leagues should embrace it by designing a structure for approved use.
This year we witnessed a flurry of both current and former professional athletes who came out in support of cannabis use. Generally, these athletes took a stance against prescription pain medications, in favor of a natural alternative – medical marijuana.
Professional athletes put their bodies through hell. It takes unique physical and mental attributes to perform at the professional level. Consequently, many of these athletes are exposed to “quick fixes” for their physical ailments.
Quick fixes have names like Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet. Quick fixes can be highly addictive and will often leave players dependent long after their careers end.
Natural pain management
Medical cannabis offers a natural alternative to these quick fixes. As a pain management device, marijuana has helped many of the world’s premier athletes.
For example, NBA legend and current New York Knicks president, Phil Jackson used marijuana during his playing days.
Jackson recently discussed his use of marijuana to treat his back pain,
I don’t know about it’s medicinal ability. I had back surgery, and the year I was off, I was smoking marijuana during that period of time. It was a distraction for me as much as a pain reliever.hil – Jackson
The Green Option for pro sports
Medical cannabis or the “Green Option”, is useful for more than just pain management. Many professional athletes battle concussions and their long-term effects on neurological processes.
Studies have shown that frequent concussions and low impact head trauma likely leads to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The U.S. Government holds a patent on the cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana as neuroprotectants. The connection between cannabinoids, concussions, and CTE is preventative in nature.
Should leagues accept medical cannabis they could theoretically provide their athletes an option that would prevent the onset of neurological disorders like CTE.
At the very least, medical cannabis can reduce the frequency and intensity of inevitable concussions.
Normalize, rationalize, and heal
The discussion around medical marijuana and sports began with the NFL. It has since evolved into an all-encompassing discussion around all sports.
NBA behemoths like Kerr and Jackson are just what the cannabis doctors ordered. As a result of their careers, they have well-respected voices in the league and sports culture.
Add to their opinion the fact that they have consumed medical cannabis, and it becomes difficult to ignore their pleas.