Could CBD Pills Be the Answer to the NFL’s Concussion Problem?

Progress is progress.

The NFL is still a no-drug zone. They’ve got zero tolerance for any kind of mind-altering substance, especially the illegal kind, like weed. And while many players have begged the NFL to allow cannabis for chronic pain and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a traumatic brain injury caused by concussions — there’s been little progress that allows players to relieve themselves with the magical powers of pot. But researchers at the University of Miami might have a solution — a pill that contains the medical benefits of weed without the psychoactive side effects.

The researchers claim that isolated cannabinoids (CBD) could be the newest concussion pill that, if taken up to 24 hours after a head injury, could stabilize damaged brain cells and prevent future onset of CTE. And, the pill won’t get you high, so maybe the NFL might just get on board.

From The Atlantic:

The researchers recently began a five-year study aimed at creating a pill that athletes could take after a concussion to avert brain damage. They plan to develop this pill using cannabidiol and dexanabinol. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of the-113 plus chemical compounds found in cannabis known as cannabinoids. Dexanabinol is a synthetic cannabinoid. Current evidence suggests these two particular cannabinoids have the capability to disrupt the series of chemical reactions that follow a concussion and lead to brain-cell death. CBD activates receptors that trigger a cellular repair mechanism in the brain, while dexanabinol prevents calcium from accumulating in the cells and draining their energy.

Sometime next year, the team at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine will conduct clinical trials to see if CBD will actually work for those who suffer concussions.

And it's exciting that the medical community is getting funding for cannabis research in the first place. The University of Miami secured a $16 million research grant to perform more research and clinical trials. It might just prove that the benefits of cannabis outweigh the stigmatizing of weed. 

But even if the NFL gets on board — there are still a few roadblocks. Weed, including CBD, is illegal by federal standards and classified as a schedule 1 drug. That means the University of Miami team will have a heard time getting all the CBD they need to test accurately, and the roll out of this possibly-positive drug might be nearly impossible, or least, take a longer time to get to market because of the piles of paperwork and licenses they need.

Still, this is major progress for CTE and weed. 

“Because cannabinoids and marijuana are getting such big press and usage now, I think somebody has to step out and start really doing the hard work, to really start looking at therapeutic windows, dosing, safety, and timing to make sure this is efficacious,” University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researcher, Gillian Hotz told The Atlantic.

This will be the first big study on cannabinoid treatment for concussions in the U.S., and it will only be one of a few studies to attempt to solve the deadly concussion epidemic. So far.