The NFL is the most viewed and highest-earning sport in the United States. Football season bleeds its way into aspects of our everyday lives. From the quarterback on our box of Cheez-Its to the commercials we see every day, we cannot ignore it. It’s safe to say that the NFL influence is very powerful, but what does this have to do with CBD?

On February 16th, the NFLPA’s Pain Management Committee made a public announcement on their request to investigate alternative pain medication for players. The reason this announcement is important is that they cited the main alternate medication of interest as Cannabinoids.  

The History Between NFL and Cannabinoids 

Research is starting because of the popularity of CBD products among former and current NFL players. Without the incredible support of the NFL community, CBD wouldn’t be in the progress of introduction to the sport. Let’s take a look back at some of the more important moments in the relationship between the two.

Cannabis-related suspensions are something that happens every season in the NFL. Much like most American sports leagues (NBA, MLB, NHL), the NFL does not allow the use of any cannabis product. This is because cannabis is still a federally illegal substance and players are subject to a nationwide standard of testing.

As cannabis has become decriminalized and in some states, legalized, the NFL has been pressured to make decisions about how they will handle changes. With teams in states such as New York, California, and Massachusetts, the NFL was forced to make amendments to their cannabis policy, and that’s just what they did.


On Thursday, February 20th, 2020, the NFL announced to teams and players the new changes surrounding the treatment of cannabis. As of that date, players were no longer subject to game suspensions due to positive tests. Furthermore, punishment has been reduced to fines. This was a major change in the culture surrounding the NFL. Former player Martellus Bennett estimates that roughly 90% of the players consume some form of cannabis to help with pain.

In recent years, the NFL has experienced criticism for the way they dose their players with pain killers. In a lawsuit against the NFL for their use of painkillers, Pittsburgh Steelers team physician Dr. Anthony Yates testified that teams were irresponsibly using these medications saying, “a majority of clubs as of 2010 had trainers controlling and handling prescription medications and controlled substances when they should not have”.

With the decision to not suspend players with positive tests for cannabinoids, the ability for players to use CBD products without facing severe consequences was a huge step for the players who enjoy using this alternative medicine. This leads us to where we are today. 

On the 16th of February, the NFLPA announced its decision to start gathering information regarding the use of CBD products as a serious alternative to opioid-based pain killers that are currently circulated.

How Does This Affect The CBD Industry?

We briefly mentioned earlier how the NFL is the most influential sport in America, this will become glaringly important. The NFL and its players are so intertwined with American culture that their statements can change the country overnight. 

Take, for example, Colin Kaepernick and the movement of kneeling during the national anthem. This was something that gained so much momentum that it started a dialogue in the US on police reform. The platform given to players in the NFL allows them to create change and inform people at a level never seen before from athletes. 

When it comes to players and their use of CBD products, they have the potential to create a national dialogue about the medicine they use to treat themselves. There already have been players that show their support for CBD products and their abilities to heal their bodies. Let’s take a look at some of the players that have made their support public. 

Rob Gronkowski

Or more affectionately known as Gronk, is one of the greatest tight ends in the history of football. Following Gronk’s first retirement in March of 2019, he announced a partnership with a CBD company called Abacus Health Products. He credits these products with helping him heal his body and return to a life without constant pain. Famously when asked on national television if he would come out of retirement to play with Tom Brady Gronk joked that he would, only if Tom Brady rubbed some of that CBD lotion on him.

Eugene Monroe

Eugene was an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens who came out publicly saying that he uses marijuana to help deal with the pain his body endures. His contract with the team was subsequently terminated and since then he has only become a larger advocate of the Cannabis world. Following his departure from the team in 2016, he joined Green Thumb Industries as a consultant and shareowner.

Marvin Washington

Following an 11-year NFL career Mr. Washington became the Vice President of Business Development of one of the largest CBD companies in the world, Isodiol International Inc. Marvin is an outspoken advocate for reform in the NFL’s drug policy as well as operating a non-profit called Athletes For Care that concerns itself with the health and safety of players.

Joe Montana

This Hall of Fame quarterback has been an active member of the investing community that surrounds the cannabis industry. In 2017, Montana invested 4.1 million into a cannabis-oriented news outlet called Herb. Montana also was involved in a venture capitalist firm that invested 75 million into Caliva, a cannabis retailer based in San Jose California. Needless to say, cannabis gets his co-sign.

With all the influence that already exists from NFL players, the news that the NFL will begin research on treating players with CBD opens a new world of possibilities. Since teams could begin treating their players with cannabinoids, they will likely start to accept sponsorships from CBD companies. When CBD becomes more popular, the research, quality, and availability of phenomenal CBD products increase drastically.


The NFL is the most influential sports franchise in the United States, and the results of them accepting CBD as a form of treatment will mean amazing things for the industry. The NFL could be the ultimate platform for the CBD industry to expand its operations.

We talked a bit about the history of the NFL and Cannabis. We mentioned how two decisions made by the NFL have changed the course of CBD in the sport. First, the removal of suspensions as a penalty for a failed drug test. Second, the investigation into CBD as an alternative healing method for players.

We also touched on some of the prominent members of the NFL CBD endorsement club. Some of its more elite members are Rob Gronkowski, Marvin Washington, Joe Montana, and Eugene Monroe. We acknowledged the influence that these players have, and that future players could have. 

At the end of the day, news from the NFLPA could lead to the NFL becoming an endorser of CBD as a healing product. This news could bring about nationwide change in the way the public sees and interacts with the CBD industry. We don’t yet know if their research will yield the results we are hoping for, but we have our fingers crossed. 

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