Packing the Bowl – Super Bowl XLVIII


The sport of football becomes intertwined with the marijuana movement as Washington and Colorado’s NFL teams head to the super bowl.

This year presented football fans with the very first cold weather outdoor Super Bowl in NFL history, and by the time you read this article, the game will have already taken place. My hopes are that the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos for the elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy. Yet this is the Super Bowl and as all New England fans know – all too well – anything can happen on any given Sunday. So for the sake of not offending anyone, I hope the team you rooted for was victorious, for I don’t believe that either team can be considered the true champion when all is said and done. 

Of course, you already watched the big game and you already know who won, but did you know that more than 110 million people also watch the big game each year? This scale of an audience created a billion dollar industry, spawned from Super Bowl sponsorship and advertising alone, justified by the event’s world-wide exposure. This is the only event I can think of after which viewers discuss the commercials long after the conversations about the occurrence itself end. I am actually willing to bet that you have been involved with a Super Bowl half-time commercial conversation this week. My heart tells me that this advertisement involved Doritos, but that is neither here nor there. Not even the billions spent on glamouring us can purchase the victory of the true Super Bowl champion.

So the stakes are set and judging by what actually took place on the day of the Super Bowl, you are thinking that I am either a genius or an imbecile. Let’s go with genius, because I am about to blow your mind. Remember that as I write this article, the game has not yet taken place, but the memes are already out and they suggest that this will be one of the best tailgate parties ever! This is because the true victor of the 2014 Super Bowl is the marijuana legalization movement.

Both of the competing teams hail from the only two states that ended marijuana prohibition – Colorado and Washington State. Though it is an obvious coincidence, this fact has already sparked much conversation among NFL fans, players, coaches and executives alike. Communities everywhere are discussing the topic, whether for the sake of humor, politics, science or sheer irony. Even people who don’t like football are talking about football! The amount of exposure being generated for the marijuana movement is mind boggling and it is all being given for free. That is the sign of a true champion.

In fact, just this month, Andrea Kremer of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” did an extensive report on marijuana use in the NFL. In this interview, athletes admitted to regular marijuana use, stating that it is more effective for pain management than traditional drugs prescribed by team physicians. Former Broncos tight end Nate Jackson supports this claim, and suggests that more than 50 percent of NFL players use marijuana regularly. Unfortunately, league regulations dictate a prohibitive stance on marijuana use, as its medical benefits have not found unanimous support from the medical community.

Fortunately, though, the current stance on marijuana use in the NFL is not set in stone.  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expressed a willingness to examine the effectiveness of cannabis as a viable treatment for concussions, a major complication within the NFL, if the medical community is willing to endorse it as such.

“We will obviously follow signs,” Goodell said. “We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that. Our medical experts are not saying that right now.”

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, one of the leading experts on medicinal marijuana, has already theorized that cannabis can not only treat pain associated with concussions, but also may have a healing effect on damaged brain tissues. This theory is drawn from his extensive testing on mice, where medicinal marijuana produced remarkable results in his test subjects. Mechoulam believes that these benefits could also translate to human subjects. With a number of other supporting studies, mostly conducted in Israel, the leader in medicinal marijuana research, it is reasonable to believe that the time for revisiting this subject is not far away.

At this time, more than 20 US states, including Washington, DC, legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. Should these states follow the lead of Washington and Colorado, would this also propel their teams to a Super Bowl appearance? It’s highly unlikely, but as more states with professional teams join the movement to end prohibition, it is reasonable to believe that the NFL, one of the most followed leagues in the world, will be compelled to make changes to its rules regarding marijuana use by its athletes.  Though this may not make all of them champions, it could prolong the careers of those who are.