The NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA) announced on the weekend that they are entering a partnership with major Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth to see how Cannabis could potentially provide medical benefits for former NHL players.
The study will be led by neurosurgeon of NEEKA Healthcare Dr. Amin Kassam. They will specifically examine how certain marijuana compounds can treat illnesses associated with concussions.
“As we continue to break new ground, push for increasing understanding as a medicine, we feel it is necessary for ourselves to step up and advance research in this space,” Chief Medical Officer of Canopy Growth Dr. Mark Ware said at an event in Toronto.
“We know that many athletes are already self-medicating with cannabis and its derivatives in an attempt to reduce both the physical and emotional consequences of head injury.”
The study will examine nearly 100 former players enrolled in the double-blind study. It is expected to begin at the beginning of the summer and is anticipated to last one year.
The study will specifically look at the effects of the non-psychoactive compound CBD.
“To me this is hope and this is help for players,” said director for the NHL Alumni Association Glenn Healy.
It is estimated that there are between 1.6 and 3.8 million athletes who suffer from concussions as a result of sports annually according to Clinics in Sports Medicine. It is estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of those will develop symptoms that can severely affect their ability to function.
“We thank the members of the NHLAA whose willingness to join this unique research partnership speaks to the need for alternative medical treatments to treat the long-term and often devastating effects of concussions,” said Healy.
Associate professor of psychology at the University of B.C. Zach Walsh said that this is a crucial study because there are currently no human trials to show the benefits of cannabis for problems following concussions. He said that marijuana could possibly help with symptoms associated with brain injuries including anxiety, relationship issues, irritability, impulsiveness and cognitive interference.
“In terms of actually resolving the injury through the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, that’s a second question. And what we see there is research from animal models that gives theoretical rationale, and there’s some anecdotal evidence, but the reason we need to do the research is to really see in humans how it works,” said Walsh.
“I think we’re about to enter a golden age where there’s a lot of trials for different conditions that we’ve all been wanting to see for a long time.”