The prestigious American sports league, the NFL (National Football League), is sponsoring two medical teams for $1 million with the goal of understanding the role of cannabinoids in pain management and neuroprotection. Brain injuries and chronic pain are two of the most common injuries that this harsh sport causes to players.

Read more about two NFL-sponsored cannabis studies and find the day's top cannabis news using the mobile app.

Joint Pain Management Committee Releases Funds

This week's NFL news is, of course, Tom Brady, the absolute American soccer superstar of two decades, finally announcing his removal at age 44 – after a record seven games and a Super Bowl win. It's a good thing he has a real supermodel for a wife at home: Gisele Bundchen.

However, the NFL has another very important piece of cannabis-related news: the NFL's Joint Pain Management Committee awarded two medical teams $1 million in cannabis research grants.

A better understanding of how medical marijuana works

The NFL's Joint Pain Management Committee, by the way, is made up of league officials and members of the NFL Players Association – the athletes themselves, as they have long discovered (and applied) the power of cannabis. The NFL's interest in weed research is high: as many as 106 medical teams have signed up for the program.

Two lucky winning teams will spend the next 3 years studying cannabis, working at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Regina in Canada. NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills on why the project was undertaken, "Whenever we want to introduce a new treatment, we must first understand how that decision affects the health and performance of our athletes."

Cannabis is of interest to many athletes at all levels

Of course, the importance of scientific research on the effects of cannabinoids – the active chemicals in cannabis, of which THC and CBD are by far the best known – isn't just the NFL, either.

This kind of work will be of interest to athletes in many different sports and at all levels," said Dr. Sills. We know that injuries and associated pain occur to some degree in all sports. So I think this (the announced NFL cannabis study, ed.) is very common.

Of course, the NFL's top medical bosses are well aware that "these products have been around for a long time and are widely used and touted in many cases." With this study, doctors first hope to clarify exactly what works and what doesn't or doesn't work when it comes to cannabis injury treatment.

The first change the player has negotiated

That said, marijuana remains banned in the NFL for the time being. Several players have been severely punished for marijuana use, and they have even been stigmatized by their sports associations as a result. Fortunately, the NFLPA players' union has made some gains in what it calls "difficult negotiations with the government. For example, athletes can no longer be suspended for marijuana use, off-season marijuana testing is no longer available, and the threshold for a favorable tetrahydrocannabinol test has been raised by as much as 400 percent.

Dr. Sills hopes the study paves the way for more research on how cannabis can help athletes – on all levels. "There's a lot of interest in this area, but we don't feel there's a lot of solid research on cannabis, the benefits of CBD and the treatment of acute and chronic pain. That's why we want to help build the evidence