It is estimated that Americans consume roughly 80% of the world’s opioids, despite America making up only 5% of the world’s population. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that over 30,000 Americans die from an opioid overdose every year. The problem is even worse among professional athletes. Retired NFL players consume opioids at four times the rate of other Americans. It’s a serious problem that needs to be properly addressed both inside and outside of the professional sports world, and Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer thinks that cannabis can help.

United States Representative Earl Blumenauer is Cliff Robinson’s Representative. Congressman Blumenauer has been a champion of cannabis reform in the political world for a very long time, having led the effort in Oregon’s Legislature in 1973 to push for cannabis decriminalization. The successful effort made Oregon the first state in the nation to decriminalize cannabis.

Congressman Blumenauer has either sponsored, co-sponsored, or strongly supported every pro-cannabis reform measure that has been introduced in Congress since he became a United States Representative in 1996. Congressman Blumenauer recently testified in support of medical cannabis as a safer alternative to opioids in front of the Energy and Commerce Committee, video footage of which can be found below:

Congressman Bluemenauer’s passionate testimony is important for reform efforts aimed at changing cannabis policies in professional sports. Federal prohibition is often cited as a reason to keep cannabis prohibition in place in professional sports, so any movement in Congress is going to help build momentum for cannabis reform in the sports world. The Uncle Cliffy team fully supports Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s efforts to reform federal cannabis laws, especially efforts geared towards promoting cannabis as a safer alternative to harmful opioids. A number of studies have shown that cannabis can help reduce opioid use. Below are a number of them, as found on our sports cannabis studies page:

“The treatment of chronic pain with medicinal cannabis in this open-label, prospective cohort resulted in improved pain and functional outcomes, and a significant reduction in opioid use.” – Haroutounian S, Ratz Y, Ginosar Y, Furmanov K, Saifi F, Meidan R, Davidson E. (2016)

“Among respondents that regularly used opioids, over three-quarters (76.7%) indicated that they reduced their use since they started medical cannabis.” – Piper BJ1,2,3, DeKeuster RM4,5, Beals ML6, Cobb CM4,7, Burchman CA8,9, Perkinson L10, Lynn ST10, Nichols SD11, Abess AT12 (2017)

“Among study participants, medical cannabis use was associated with a 64% decrease in opioid use (n = 118), decreased number and side effects of medications, and an improved quality of life (45%). This study suggests that many CP patients are essentially substituting medical cannabis for opioids and other medications for CP treatment, and finding the benefit and side effect profile of cannabis to be greater than these other classes of medications.” – Boehnke KF, Litinas E, Clauw DJ. (2016)

“All prescriptions for scheduled medications must be reported to the New Mexico Prescription Monitoring Program with opiates and benzodiazepines being the two most common. Based on these prescription records, patients enrolled in the medical cannabis program reduced the monthly average number of prescriptions, types of prescriptions (drug classes), number of prescribers, and number of related pharmacy visits. 71% of medical cannabis program enrollees either ceased or reduced their use of scheduled prescriptions within 6 months of enrolling.” – Stith, S. S., et al (2017)

“The growing body of research supporting the medical use of cannabis as an adjunct or substitute for opioids creates an evidence-based rationale for governments, health care providers, and academic researchers to consider the implementation and assessment of cannabis-based interventions in the opioid crisis.” – Philippe Lucas (2017)

“The majority of patients in this study believed that medical marijuana is a valid treatment and that it does have a role in reducing post-injury and post-operative pain. Those patients who used marijuana during their recovery felt that it alleviated symptoms of pain and reduced their opioid intake.” – Heng, Marilyn MD, MPH, FRCSC; McTague, Michael F. MPH; Lucas, Robert C. BA; Harris, Mitchel B. MD; Vrahas, Mark S. MD; Weaver, Michael J. MD (2017)