Retired NFL lineman Todd Herremans is the latest former player to speak publicly about using cannabis during his playing days, saying there was “no regularity” to his use but admitted in an NJTV interview that he used the drug for sleep and pain management.
Herreman’s cannabis use during his 11-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts wasn’t exactly a secret — he tested positive three times and was subjected to the league’s drug treatment and monitoring program — but he’s opening up about his habits to bring awareness to a Doctors for Cannabis Regulation campaign that is urging the NFL to allow medicinal cannabis use as an alternative to opioids.
“I just kind of used it until I could tough it out myself,” Herreman said in the report. “I saw a lot of friends of mine throughout the years that I played that would end up with opiate addictions and it was kind of a scary thing.”
Last month, Dr. David Nathan, founder of the coalition of physician-advocates, sent a letter to the NFL asking that they not only allow for the use of medical cannabis in the league, but the group is also asking officials to treat cannabis like alcohol and support research into the potential neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids.
“Within the medical community, cannabis is consistently regarded as less toxic, less addictive and less harmful than many legal drugs like alcohol, tobacco or prescription opioid medications,” the letter to the league states.
The NFL has indicated they would spend $100 million to explore options in player protection, and Nathan believes that some of that funding should be used to research alternatives to opioids.
“I think that that’s a moral obligation on the part of the NFL,” he said. “I don’t believe that any of us at this point really think that marijuana is a drug without some medical use.”
A number of NFL team owners support making changes to the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding cannabis use, and the NFL Players Association has convened a committee to study its use as a pain management therapy. According to an ESPN survey of active NFL players, 61 percent believed fewer players would take pain-killing shots if the league would allow medical cannabis use.