After decades of being in the shadows and conducting tens of billions of dollars a year in black-market transactions, legal weed is stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

There has been an increase in the number of athletes that combine Cannabis with their training. Cannabis has become lately a trend among runners, cyclists, swimmers, triathletes and jumpers. Some athletes revealed that they are sure of the fact that cannabis can boost the performance of athletes. It is not yet proven that cannabis can improve  the athletic performance but some athletes are sure of it.

In Canada, the veil of recreational prohibition was officially lifted in October, while Mexico appears very close to becoming the third country worldwide to OK adult-use pot. Meanwhile, in the U.S., 33 states have waved the green flag on medical cannabis, along with over 40 countries around the world. More and more American citizens can consume cannabis legally in several ways(pipes, dab rigs, bongs etc).

Cannabidiol or CBD is the chemical compound of marijuana that is tilting the scales towards the side that favors the use of cannabis as a medicine. CBD is popular because it has great medical rewards and it doesn’t make people stoned. It can also reduce the High caused by the psychoactivity of THC.

The last few years many NFL players have openly advocated for the use of cannabinoids to treat chronic pain and sports-related injuries.  Many of them they openly approve and promote the use of CBD creams and oils. More and more athletes choose to medicate with medical marijuana.

Pro football has a long history of keeping Cannabis on the banned substance list, even as public opinion has gravitated toward its legalization and available research has identified its potential to alleviate a range of ailments.The NFL’s cannabis-testing policies and its random drug-testing tactics  have remained the same. Marijuana, in any form, is among these banned substances. Harvard University has published studies on Cannabis’ potential medicinal applications for players.

Although the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and Detroit Lions play in states where medical and recreational pot is legal, any player arrested with cannabis in their body can be suspended by the league according to the rules of  the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Former and active players are using cannabis for pain relief. And there has been also a legislative change: 2016 elections saw Florida, North Dakota, Montana and Arkansas legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, while California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada legalized marijuana for any use.

As the environment is more open now to discuss without even being stigmatized there are more voices now that ask for changes to the NFL’s drug policies so that will permit players to use cannabis for medical purposes. Moreover, known players like Gronkowski partner with cannabis companies and promote CBD related products.On the other hand there is a lot of players who want to use cannabis products but still avoid doing so, and they avoid periodic tests.

Cannabis infused medications can be used safely as they are non-addictive compared  to opioids.  The proponents of using marijuana as an alternative to opioids are dealing with pain, something every NFL player experiences often.

Many say that the time is soon for NFL to  consider changes to its policy on marijuana, which currently is a complete ban.Crafting a marijuana policy is difficult for the NFL because Congress has not removed marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. But things are now moving to a more cannabis friendly direction. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that “there are a lot of alternative pain medications and treatments.” There is no doubt that we need to do more research on the pain management qualities” of cannabis.

Mostly through word-of-mouth exchanges, after years of managing pain through the use of alcohol, non prescription anti-inflammatory drugs some former football players are turning to cannabis for relief.

It’s time for the NFL to change its old fashioned drug policies and its standards so it can protect  its athletes better and keep them away from the toxic opioids .