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NFL Players and Rochester Residents Fight for Access to Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana from the DoctorNFL player Eugene Monroe is on a mission to introduce medical marijuana as an accepted alternative to painkillers as treatment for sports injuries.

Monroe, among several other current and former professional football players, hope to change minds about medical marijuana use, arguing that it is a healthier option than the opiates currently prescribed by NFL doctors.

“It’s not even about bashing current practices,” said Monroe, “but we now know that there’s a better way, that there’s a healthier way. It’s hard to be a member of a league where myself and all the other athletes sacrifice so much, especially with our bodies, and currently, the solution for our problems is being prescribed various pain pills, which have a highly addictive nature and damaging effects.”

Eben Britton, who has played in the NFL for six years, supports Monroe’s cause. He, too, believes that the league should be offering better treatment options. “My wife remembers a time when I had six different pill bottles, whether it was Indocin, which is this really powerful anti-inflammatory that just literally shreds your digestive system,” he said.

Consequences of prescription drug use include much more serious damage than just wreaking havoc on the digestive system. A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that overdose death rates from prescription opioids have increased over the years. In 2014, prescription drug overdoses killed almost twice as many people as cocaine and heroin combined.

In light of this, more and more people are considering medical marijuana as a logical alternative for treating chronic pain, particularly the types that NFL players commonly endure during and after their careers.

Despite the growing enthusiasm for alternative treatment options, NFL officials are standing by their stringent drug policy that strictly prohibits the consumption of cannabis in any form.

Outside of the NFL, regular people are struggling to access medical marijuana for their own pain relief as more than 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain.

New York State launched its medical marijuana program in January, but the Department of Health is reluctant to release the names of physicians who are registered to certify patients.

A cannabis dispensary has opened up in Building 28 at Eastman Business Park in Rochester, but patients are finding it very difficult to access doctors who are registered to certify them for the drug. Several physicians in the UR Medicine system have registered with the state, but many people who have reached out to these doctors did not actually qualify to receive the medication under the state’s guidelines that strictly limit eligibility.

The process is a slow one, but many people still have faith that medical marijuana will someday soon become a legal treatment option for professional athletes as well as the general U.S. population.