"Our interdisciplinary research team believes that different cannabinoid formulations found in medical cannabis have the potential to benefit athletes suffering from the acute and long-term chronic effects of concussions,” says Neary. “Our research will test whether cannabinoids can be used as an alternative to opioids and other prescription medications for pain management. Ultimately, this study has the potential to change not only the lives of current and former NFL players, but also the lives of anyone who may suffer from a concussion, whether it’s sport-related or acquired elsewhere.”
Neary says his team specifically aims to investigate the effects of different CBD/THC formulations for pain management in those suffering from post-concussion syndrome and chronic pain, and as a neuroprotective treatment for concussion.
“We hypothesize that our CBD/THC formulations will show significant and positive changes to what it does to the brain – that it will reduce pain and use of prescription medications (opioids), show a reduced number of concussions during athletic competition, and provide physiological and psychological benefits.”
The NFL also funded another project at the University of California San Diego that will investigate the effects of cannabinoids on pain management.
“As with the league’s broader approach to health and safety, we want to ensure that our players are receiving care that reflects the most up-to-date medical consensus,” said Dr. Allen Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer. “While the burden of proof is high for NFL players who want to understand the impact of any medical decision on their performance, we are grateful that we have the opportunity to fund these scientifically-sound studies on the use of cannabinoids that may lead to the discovery of data-based evidence that could impact the pain management of our players.”
Neary says this study with the NFL is one of the most significant pieces of work he can do and is honored and humbled to receive the award.
“Concussions in pro sports is a serious issue that may be associated with big problems later in life. The goal of our team’s work is to prevent these problems for athletes in the future,” says Neary.
Through their rigorous research, Neary’s team is also banking on being able to demonstrate the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of CBD for daily consumption.
Next steps will include obtaining Health Canada approval for the clinical trials.