Football coaches debate the possible benefits and dangers of marijuana use

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EL PASO — The week before the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, Pete Carroll was asked about his thoughts on the use in the NFL of medicinal marijuana, which is legal in the state of Washington.

Carroll said that the NFL needs to continue to find ways to make football a better game by taking care of its players in the best way possible.

“The fact that it’s [medicinal marijuana]in the world of medicine is obviously something [that Commissioner Roger Goodell]realizes.” Carroll said he supports the commissioner’s “expression that we need to follow the information and the research.”

Carroll said that regardless of the stigmas involved, he thinks “we have to do this because the world of medicine is trying to do the exact same thing and figure it out and they’re coming to some conclusions.”

Richard_Sherman_and_Pete_Carroll_Seattle Seahawks

Richard Sherman and Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks hugging after Super Bowl XLVIII. (©Anthony Quintano)

University of Texas at El Paso head football Coach Sean Kugler said he does not agree with Carroll. “I have my own opinions about drugs and college athletes, and that is handled within our program,” he said.

UTEP Head athletic trainer, Dawn Hearn said that until marijuana use is legalized “there is nothing to talk about. Marijuana has never been considered a performance enhancing drug, and in all but two states it is still against the law to use. There is a lot of research out there that says it helps with pain and does have some medicinal properties.”

Hearn said it is unclear what the NCAA would do if the NFL does go along with using medicinal marijuana.

“The NCAA does follow what the professional sports do a lot, but I really don’t know what their stance would be on this. I really don’t think there will be any changes in professional sports or within the NCAA, unless marijuana is legalized federally”.

NFL commissioner Goodell said on January 23 that if medical experts were ever able to show that medical marijuana could help treat concussions, he would consider allowing players to use it.

The commissioner said, via USAToday.com that “I’m not a medical expert. We will obviously follow signs. We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that.”

Goodell said the NFL would continue to support the evolution of medical practices to help injured players.

“I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries, but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine.”

Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson, via CBS Sports, said he doesn’t mind if medicinal marijuana gets taken up by the NFL’s medical experts.

“I think anything that can make our job a little easier without sacrificing our health at the same time is good for the league; it’s good for players,” Robinson said. “I’m all for alternative forms of recovery and all those types of things — hyperbaric chambers, o-zoning, whatever it may be. So, I’m all for it. Whatever can help the player, I’m for.”

One former UTEP football player said that he was all for the use of medical marijuana to benefit athletes but if there is no benefit, he said there should be no promotion of it.

He also said when he visited a professional football team he heard some of the veteran players “openly talking about weed and saying they weren’t worried about a drug test cause they [drug testers]only look for like hardcore street drugs or steroids.”

In all, 20 states including the District of Columbia have
legalized the use of medical marijuana. It remains to be seen if any new medical
benefits of marijuana will come to light in the near future that could lead to
legalization of the drug for medical purposes in the rest of the country.

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