The Super Bowl: It’s the biggest television event in the country, watched by over 100 million annually.
By: Raj Chander
This year, it could have hosted a historic step in bringing medical cannabis to the mainstream and opening more people’s eyes to the plant’s benefits.
Unfortunately, CBS blew an opportunity to change outdated opinions about medical cannabis and the safe treatment it offers for those dealing with chronic pain and illness.
Last Tuesday, it was announced that CBS refused to air a medical cannabis Super Bowl commercial from Acreage Holdings, a cannabis investment company with stake in dispensaries and cultivators licensed in 18 different states.
Even with Political Clout
Acreage’s leadership team is a group of political heavyweights: Former Speaker of the House John Boehner and former Massachusetts Governor William Weld serve on its Board of Directors. The company is one of the largest of its kind in the United States and has some of the most high-profile names supporting its mission: “To champion and provide access to cannabis’ beneficial properties by creating the best quality products and experiences.”
That’s why it’s so disappointing to see CBS take an antiquated approach on advertising during the biggest TV event of the year. If anyone could have gotten this kind of ad cleared, you’d think a company with Acreage’s political clout would be the one.
The ad’s rejection made headlines at major news outlets, but it’s not exactly a surprise – even to Acreage president George Allen – given the NFL’s medieval approach to cannabis. While this decision was made by the big game’s TV network, the NFL hasn’t been much better in its approach to the plant. Until 2014, the NFL had a test failure threshold of 15 nanograms per milliliter, more than three times higher than the one used by the MLB and even the U.S. military.
Cannabis Bias in Professional Sports
But the league only moved the threshold up to 35 ng/ml, which is still more stringent than other pro sports leagues. By contrast, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he supported relaxing or even fully legalizing the use of cannabis. In December, he predicted changes would come soon to the NBA’s policy.
In the NHL, cannabis is not even on the list of banned substances. A player who tests positive for a significant amount is referred to a behavioral health program, not suspended and forced to lose out on getting paid for a portion of their (typically short) career.
Yet the NFL lags behind, despite being arguably the most brutal sport in the country, where men close to three hundred pounds run into each other at full speed again and again. That’s not to say they get no relief: The league’s drug of choice, according to Bleacher Report, is Toradol, a powerful non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) whose symptoms include:
- Upset stomach
- High blood pressure
And in rare cases, liver disease. Some researchers believe it causes thinning of the blood, putting players at greater risk of concussions – a problem already rampant in football. Despite Toradol not being recommended for use longer than five days, nearly half of the NFL players in Bleacher Report’s survey say they’ve been using it for years.
It’s especially surprising when you consider that NFL greats like Warren Sapp, Tiki Barber, Jake Plummer, and Joe Montana have all either invested in cannabis companies or openly advocated for its use (or both).
Until the NFL and its powerful corporate partners come to their senses on cannabis, players in one of the most dangerous sports in the world will be forced into using similarly dangerous methods of pain relief.
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