Research Program Eyes Cannabinoids to Treat Former NHL Players’ Pain

Article by Allan Maki, Globe and Mail

Research program eyes cannabinoids to treat former NHL players’ pain ALLAN MAKI

The National Hockey League Alumni Association is offering “hope and help” to its ailing members through a clinical research initiative that includes diagnosis, treatment and the use of cannabinoids [CBD] for pain management.

NHLAA executive director Glenn Healy will unveil the program Saturday in Toronto and has called it “the most ambitious project the Alumni Association has ever done.” The multi-million dollar endeavour is a partnership between the Association and its 3,800 members, NEEKA Healthcare Canada and Canopy Growth, a Smith Falls, Ont., company that produces cannabis-based products.

“We’re trying to get players back functionally integrated into their world,” said Mr. Healy, a former NHL goaltender who noted he has spoken with dozens of ex-players who are struggling physically and mentally. “They’re wounded in some way and they don’t know where to turn. When you finish playing, the [NHL] Players’ Association doesn’t represent you any more so then what? Where do you go for help? Now you have a place to go.”

Canopy Growth will fund at least one study of former players from southern Ontario to determine how to wean them off addictive opioids, a burgeoning problem shared by retired and current athletes, particularly those in contact sports. Doctors Mark Ware and Amin Kassam are involved in the project. Dr. Ware is Canopy Growth’s chief medical officer as well as the director of clinical research at McGill University Health Centre’s Pain Management Unit. Dr. Kassam is a renowned neurosurgeon associated with NEEKA Healthcare Canada. He is based at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, Wisc.

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