Eugene Monroe donates $80,000 for marijuana research

Doubling down on his push for the NFL to legalize the use of marijuana for players suffering from pain, Baltimore Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe has donated $80,000 for marijuana research at the University of Pennsylvania.

Last week, Monroe preempted this move by starting a website that campaigns the NFL to remove marijuana from its list of banned substances (read more here).

He and many others believe cannabinoids — specifically THC — offer a much safer alternative to the league’s obsession with prescribing opioids to its players for chronic pain.

“As a player I’m not allowed to use cannabis, but I’ve been prescribed opioids for various injuries,” Monroe said in an interview with Philly.com Thursday evening. “The opioids work, but they’re very dangerous and highly addictive.”

In addition to helping players cope with chronic pain, Monroe wants researchers to investigate the potential benefits of marijuana as it relates to brain injuries. The researchers are already working on projects that involve post traumatic syndrome in combat veterans and children who suffer from seizures.

Monroe’s donation will spark a new strain of research that looks into how cannabinoids could help players recover from injuries.

“Opioids are ruining lives across the country, and as athletes we’re not immune to those perils,” said Monroe, who has been prescribed prescription painkillers as he recovers from shoulder surgery. “This is an issue that goes beyond any personal career implications. I understand why other players may be adverse to speaking out, but our health is worth it.”

Many former NFL players have spoken out to advocate the use of cannabis over opioids. Monroe is, to this point, the first active player in the league to make such a stance public. The fact that he’s not only speaking out but that he’s sunk money, time and effort into the issue speaks volumes about how important this research is to him personally.

What is particularly interesting is that Monroe’s employer, the Ravens, just a couple weeks ago took Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil off their board after a video of him smoking marijuana came out on draft day. It’s impossible to know if the team views Monroe’s advocacy in the same light as it did Tunsil’s use of the substance during his college days.

One thing that we know for certain: Eugene Monroe is treading on what has traditionally been thin ice in NFL circles for decades.