Steelers legend Franco Harris is one of the few retired NFL players whose experience with pain has been pretty low maintenance. Despite maintaining his status as one of the leading rushers in NFL history, Harris is considered lucky to have not suffered more severe long-term damage after his time on the field. However, there is a pain-related topic that Harris thinks is an important discussion to be had in the NFL: Marijuana.
“Even during my playing days, I really didn’t have to do anything with pain management,” Harris said in an interview with the Post Gazette. “I’ve never had any long-term pain. I’ve been pretty lucky all the way back to high school.” He says it’s amazing he’s reached the age of 67 without more issues from football, but if they do arise, he’s grateful that Pennsylvania will allow him to legally obtain medical marijuana.
The NFL has been under pressure lately with regards to their marijuana policy, which bans the substance with no medical exceptions, even in the 28 states that have legalized it either medically or recreationally. Those 28 states host 20 of the NFL’s 32 teams, which Harris sees as a sign that it’s time for this ban to change. “I feel in any state that has approved medical marijuana, the league should remove medical marijuana from being a banned substance,” he said. “I feel that recreational marijuana should be a banned substance in the NFL, but medical marijuana has a different composition.”
The great thing about Harris is that he isn’t all talk; he’s a sitting chairman for Laurel Green Medical, he’s recently submitted two applications for regional grow operations, and he’s a vocal supporter of Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman’s effort to put a grow operation in the city.
One of Harris’ biggest motivating factors for his stance on marijuana in the NFL is the extreme level of opiate use and abuse. It’s not unusual for players to receive decade-long prescriptions for 100+ opiate-based painkillers a month, despite the high risk of addiction, gastrointestinal damage, and other long-term health problems. Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive chemical in marijuana, is known for its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, a huge benefit to players dealing with chronic pain or high concussion risks during games or practice.
“I’ve talked to a number of people and I know there have been studies that show the science behind medical marijuana in relation to pain management,” he said. “I’ve talked to people who’ve been in pain due to falling off a roof or being in a car accident and they have praised medical marijuana and how it helped them. The science is there to support its benefits with seizures, epilepsy, a lot of different conditions. It’s not addictive and, to me, this is just one of the most important things we can do for people.”
via Post Gazette