New NFL-NFLPA committees to study pain management, including marijuana

NFL moves Chargers-Steelers, Rams-Bears into primetime

Help is on the way for NFL players, it appears.

The NFL and NFL Players Association on Monday announced two joint agreements that will support further resources to address behavioral health and pain management.

Per the league’s release:

First, the NFL and NFLPA will work together to address the challenges of pain management for our current players and work to advance and understand the science in this area to improve potential treatments. The second agreement builds on the substantial player behavioral and mental health care resources available to NFL players with additional programs directed toward education, prevention, and overall behavioral health throughout the league.

The NFL and NFLPA formed a Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Committee and a Joint Pain Management Committee to address and improve these issues.

The first will develop educational programs for players and their family members and “collaborate with local and national mental health and suicide prevention organizations to reduce stigma related to mental health and promote suicide prevention and awareness.”

The second will establish “uniform standards for club practices and policies regarding pain management and the use of prescription medication by NFL players.”

All 32 teams will be required to appoint a pain management specialist before next season.

One potential — and controversial — form of treatment that could be considered: marijuana.

“We want to explore all of the strategies that help a player deal with acute and chronic pain,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said in a phone interview Monday, via ESPN.

“Some of those efforts require medication, some don’t. With regard to marijuana, certainly there’s a lot of discussion about not only cannabis but cannabinoid compounds, CBD, and it’s something that healthcare providers are exploring outside of football. That type of research will certainly be part of the mission of this committee and this program.”

However, the new committees don’t indicate any immediate changes to the league’s current drug policy.