Torey Krug

ryan getzlaf

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about the legalization of marijuana in Canada and what effect this will have on Canadian hockey teams. The NHLPA is taking the stance of educating players about its effects, but when it comes to marijuana, it’s been proven to be a viable option for pain relief.  Which makes you wonder if it should be discouraged in sports?  I’m not a physician, so I’m not saying that players should use it in place of other drugs, but I am suggesting maybe there is more to it than meets the eye.  In fact, many are in support of cannabis and its oils as an alternative to the more addictive drugs that are commonly used by athletes.  What’s the difference between taking a pill and playing, or using some cannabis oil?

Canada is on the verge of becoming the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana.  Which means, it will be available – under the law – in seven more NHL cities.  It’s been legal for adults in Denver since 2012. While not the reason for its legalization, this does mean that more people will come forward identifying this as an acceptable means of treatment for pain.  There was an awful stereotype associated with marijuana use, for years.  More and more people are seeing the health benefits and are using it for pain management.

While the above video is specific to NFL, I think that the scenario can be applied to any high contact sport.

Commissioner Gary Bettman had this to say about it:

“The Substance Abuse & Behavioral Health Program for decades has been educating players on using drugs, legal or illegal. That process will continue and we will consider what changes, if any, in our program have to be made. But right now, we think based on the educational level and what we do test for and how we test, at least for the time being, we’re comfortable with where we are.”

Maybe what that means is if a player opts to use it for treatment, they aren’t going to be able to play.  Which, kind of defeats the purpose because they can then go out and get some oxy and be on the ice the next night.  I guess what I’m saying is that the NHL isn’t helping the situation.  They’re either going to have players playing injured and on worse drugs than marijuana.  Or they’re going to have players sitting out because they can’t play due to the pain and the fact that marijuana is what they’ve decided for treatment.

In the NFL and the NBA players can be suspended for marijuana use.  In the MLB, players can get a fine for multiple marijuana infractions.  But only a significantly high amount of the drug found in the NHL testing actually triggers a referral to a health program doctor. Meaning, the whole idea of its use is moot.  So unofficially the NHL allows its use.  More than two dozen U.S. states allow marijuana use for a variety of ailments, but the federal government has not approved it for any medical use. Some players have already done research into the benefits of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) oils. There’s a curiosity about whether marijuana could one day replace or limit painkillers like oxy, even if players aren’t yet ready to make that leap.

Regardless, I think that we are moving in a direction where something like CBD oil is more of a viable option than oxy, but again, that’s just the opinion of a non-medical practitioner.