Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University
Institute of Emerging Health Professions
Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis & Hemp

Message from the Director

May 8, 2017

Charles V. Pollack, Jr., MA, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, FAHA, FACC, FESC, FCPPCharles V. Pollack, Jr.
Director, Jefferson
Institute of
Emerging Health Professions

Last week, Philadelphia hosted the NFL Draft. The city was abuzz with excitement over potential draft picks, but the conversation quickly changed to another hot topic: medical marijuana and the potential hazards associated with its use among professional athletes for pain management.

NFL officials’ comments on the hazards of medicinal marijuana are not well supported by rigorous studies in the scientific literature. While the science is, in fact, still evolving, some current data suggest that cannabinoids may have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial, and should not be discounted out of hand.  It is also quite important for professional sports associations to understand that medicinal cannabis for pain management can be delivered by numerous methods that extend beyond smoking.  

The Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia collaborates with organizations around the world to advance the research and responsible education around cannabis. Last week, the Center held a leadership meeting which included representatives from Athletes for Care. Together, the organizations discussed areas of cannabis research of interest to professional athletes.

With 29 states and the District of Columbia having approved the medicinal use of cannabis in specific conditions, many of which may be pertinent to active or former professional athletes, governing organizations may need to take these state laws into account when issuing policies.

Jefferson researchers at The Lambert Center and those at many collaborating institutions worldwide believe that these issues represent a high priority for research funding and that well-designed multicenter studies will shed light on many vexing problems that professional athletes face during and after their playing careers. We are the only comprehensive academic resource for education, research and practice in the medicinal cannabis space.

Jefferson, along with Susan Sisley MD, a board member of Athletes for Care and noted medicinal cannabis researcher, urge governing organizations for professional athletes to  set aside some of their funding  used for research into health issues, for the study of the efficacy and safety of cannabis use in high-performance athletes.

The Lambert Center will continue to work with Athletes for Care, institutions and foundations, and other interested parties to support the development and execution of scientifically rigorous, adequately-powered clinical studies to explore these very complex pain management issues.  

Charles Pollack MD
Director of The Lambert Center