The NHL Alumni Association is conducting a cannabis study to help former players substitute opioids for weed

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The NHL Alumni Association is conducting a cannabis study to help former players substitute opioids for weed

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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A study investigating cannabis as an alternative for opioids is set to be carried after a joint partnership was secured between the NHL Alumni Association and Canadian cannabis company, Canopy Growth Corporation. The impact of using weed to treat chronic pain will be assessed in this study.

Described by Canopy and the NHL Alumni Association as “a transformative clinical research initiative in partnership,” the study acts as a milestone for medical cannabis research in sports.  In order to conduct the study, the Alumni Association’s membership pool will be used by Canopy.

“NHL alumni gave everything they had during their careers, but the physical consequences after they hang up their skates can be devastating for both players and their loved ones for the rest of their lives,” said the executive director of the NHLAA, Glenn Healy, in a release. “This study offers alumni the promise of help and hope, and we are excited to participate in what could become a true game-changer in allowing these professional athletes to finish strong.”

100 retired NHL players living in Canada will partake in the study

The blind randomized study will be financed by Canopy. Hopefully, the results will determine whether or not cannabis can effectively aid former NHL players in quitting opioids for good. Promising results will prompt a search for more study subjects.

“This is a crystallizing moment,” neurosurgeon Dr. Amin Kassam said during an interview with Westhead. “We’re going to be using high-resolution imaging, biomarkers, ocular, vestibular testing. We have a big need, the right agenda, and the right people.”

Studies show opioid reduction in states with legal cannabis laws

Researchers who have been monitoring the rate of opiate-related deaths in the U.S. have discovered that, in the six years after medical cannabis legalization, opiate-related deaths dropped 33 percent in 13 states.

Back in 2011, 55 percent of drug overdose deaths were linked to prescription meds and 75 percent of the overdose deaths were caused by opiate misuse.

“The striking implication is that medical [cannabis] laws, when implemented, may represent a promising approach for stemming runaway rates of unintentional opioid-analgesic-related deaths,” wrote researchers Dr. Mark S. Brown and Marie J. Hayes in a commentary accompanying the study.

Researchers delved into the death certificate data and medical cannabis laws in all 50 U.S. states from 1999-2010. Just 13 states had enacted medical cannabis laws during that time period. Soon after their research began, the researchers saw a noticeable connection between fatal opioid overdoses and medical cannabis legalization – overdoses reduced after legalization.

In 2010, there were 1,700 fewer fatal opiate-related overdoses in states that had legalized medical cannabis.

We found there was about a 25 percent lower rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths on average after implementation of a medical [cannabis] law,” said the lead study author, Dr. Marcus Bachhuber.