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Top NFL doctors set up conference call with marijuana advocates


For months, Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe has been advocating for the NFL to change its marijuana policy, to open the door to research the drug’s possibilities for pain relief.

Finally, it appears the NFL is willing to listen.

In a profile of Monroe by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, it’s mentioned that a pair of the league’s top medical people participated in a conference call with the researchers Monroe has helped fund with his $80,000 donation.

Monroe’s group talked to Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for player health and safety, and neurological surgeon Russell Lonser, a member of the league’s head, neck and spine committee. The league apparently requested the call.

They are interested in learning more about the potential for cannabinoids to help current and former players, as is evidenced by them taking the call, and also expressed a desire to learn more,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania school of medicine. “They are definitely showing genuine curiosity, and they are definitely not throwing up roadblocks.”

While that’s far from an endorsement, the mere recognition of the possibility is a huge step for the NFL. Previously, commissioner Roger Goodell’s answer has been a solid “I’ll listen to my doctors, but no” on any marijuana-related questions, despite the fact it’s legal for recreational use in two of the cities he does business in.

But Monroe’s appeal on behalf of the drug’s medicinal rather than psychoactive properties is apparently earning some degree of traction, and he understands why he’s on a bit of an island at the moment, the only active player taking an active role for the cause.

“To this point, I understand why no one but me as an active player has said anything about it,” the Ravens tackle said. “It’s a banned substance in our league. Speaking about it can honestly ruin someone’s career if the wrong team gets wind of it, and has adverse opinions on it. But my health is more important than the opinion of someone who could be my employer now or my future employer. . . .

“There’s enough anecdotal evidence already to say, ‘Hey listen, we know it’s not toxic. We know it’s safer than what we’re already doing.’ ”

And for a change, the NFL appears to be willing to listen.