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Harvard Psychiatry Prof: The NFL Should Combat Concussions with Cannabis

Stashed in: Football, Science!, Brain, Awesome, Medicine, Carl Sagan, Harvard, Marijuana, Marijuana, Concussions

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Retired Harvard psychiatrist calls for the NFL to fund research into whether marijuana can protect the brain from CTE.

Holy smokes, he toked with Carl Sagan:

Preeminent Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon smoked pot with Carl Sagan (a lot), which prompted him to write two books about cannabis, Marihuana Reconsidered (1971) and Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine (1993). Dr. Grinspoon asked us to consider running an open letter he'd written to the commissioner of the National Football League, Roger S. Goodell, imploring him to actively support research into using cannabis to treat long term head trauma, and we felt his thoughts are worth sharing.

I'm angry that the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug.

Why marijuana is schedule 1:

Marijuana is a schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act passed by the Congress in 1970. A schedule I drug is a dangerous substance that has no recognized medical use and that has a high potential for abuse. In addition to marijuana, heroin, LSD and ecstasy are schedule I substances.

It's time for Congress to change the law.

I love that football could lead to a tremendous science and medicine breakthrough:

Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data. But unfortunately, the extensive research required to definitively determine cannabis's ability to prevent CTE will require millions of dollars in upfront investment, and despite the great promise many now see in cannabinopathic medicine, it's hard to imagine who else has both the motive and the means to provide such funding.

Typically, a new medicine reaches the market because a pharmaceutical company pays for research to establish both its efficacy and safety. But it's highly unlikely that a pharmaceutical company will get involved in studying cannabis as a treatment for CTE, because the plant (and its natural components) can't be patented, and would therefore likely fail to provide an adequate return on investment even if developed into a successful treatment.

The only other potential source of funding is the US government, which remains inexcusably resistant to any clinical study designed to examine marijuana's potential benefits.

Fortunately, the NFL's pockets are plenty deep enough to launch a serious, intensive research program designed to determine whether or not some combination of cannabinoids is effective in preventing the consequences of concussions. This would not only be a great public service, it's in the league's own financial self-interest.

This research could save lives and improve quality of lives.

Infographic: It's time for marijuana to stop being schedule 1.

Infographic: Why is Marijuana a Schedule I Drug? Imgur

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