Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Harvard professor urges NFL to fund medical marijuana studies for CTE treatment


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league would consider allowing players to use medical marijuana if the medicine supports its potential benefits, especially as it relates to concussion treatment.

A Harvard professor believes that the medicine will only get to that point if appropriate studies are funded. And the Harvard professor believes the NFL should fund a study regarding whether marijuana can treat or prevent Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.

“The extensive research required to definitively determine cannabis’s ability to prevent CTE will require millions of dollars in upfront investment,” Dr. Lester Grinspoon wrote in an open letter to Goodell, via "[I]t’s highly unlikely that a pharmaceutical company will get involved in studying cannabis as a treatment for CTE, because the plant [and its natural components] can’t be patented.”

Grinspoon, 85, has been an advocate of medical marijuana for decades.

“Given the severity of the problem . . . I think you, and the NFL, must go beyond simply following the medicine, and help lead the way by directly funding research to determine if cannabis . . . can indeed provide significant protection against the damage of repetitive concussions,” Grinspoon wrote to Goodell.

Grinspoon’s letter speaks to the fundamental question of whether the NFL will sit and wait for someone else to figure out whether medical marijuana can help treat or prevent CTE, or whether the NFL is sufficiently committed to the health of players to fully explore this and any other possibility.

Here’s hoping the league adopts the spirit of Dr. Grinspoon’s letter, objectively assessing any possible treatment for CTE and spending money as warranted to explore potential vehicles for helping players reverse or prevent its development.