It’s a rare occurrence for a professional athlete to make a greater contribution to the sport in which he thrived, years after stepping off the field for the last time. This is exactly what former New York Jets defensive end Marvin Washington is hoping to achieve in partnering with Kinnalife Sciences.
In an exclusive three-part interview with JetNation.com, Washington touches on a variety of topics, including being drafted into the NFL just two years after taking up the sport; making the transition from a rookie back-up to six year starter; and the events that unfolded on the field when his friend and roommate, Dennis Byrd, was paralyzed following a collision with teammate Scott Mersereau against the Kansas City Chiefs in November of 1992.
In Part I however, we’ll discuss Marvin’s current passion which includes working towards the possible de-criminalization of marijuana use throughout the NFL. Washington has done his homework, and the science supports his claims. With all of the steps the NFL has taken to reduce brain trauma and how to approach it when it does occur, Washington wants them to take one more big step, that he feels could be just around the corner.
JETNATION.COM: Marvin, can you share with us exactly what it is you’re doing in this arena and who you’re working with?
MARVIN WASHINGTON: I just got involved with Kannalife Sciences. They’re a medical marijuana company that helps write the laws in New York State to make sure that if you’re taking medical marijuana, it’s in in a vaporized or an edible product, but I want to focus on the scientific side.
They conducted a study in which they took the compound out of the cannabis plant. It’s called a canabidiol (CBD) and it’s a neuro-protectant for the brain. How does it apply to the NFL? It reduces the effect of concussions and can also be preventative for concussions. It also reduces Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
JN: So it covers multiple aspects?
MW: Yes, we’re talking about curative, preventative, and quality of life solutions. We’re also talking about the college level, high school players, and military veterans coming out of theater with traumatic brain injuries.
JN: How far along are you guys in this process?
MW: As far as what stage it’s in, it’s still in its infancy but I’m on their advisory board, and we’re trying to make everyone aware of where the science is going and take away the negative connotation that goes along with marijuana. People have to realize that the CBD has no psycho-active effects, which means you’re not getting high, but it coats the brain and acts as a neuro-protector.
JN: Are there any other companies exploring this?
MW: Actually, there’s a company in England that’s taking the compound and helping out people who have epilepsy and strokes. Their clinical studies have shown to reduce both. In Israel, they’ve done studies using a CBD spray to treat traumatic brain injuries on their soldiers. So, I think we’re at a perfect time in the NFL, and the perfect time and place in this country to look at this thing in a mature way, and in a way that it could help keep the players healthy. I do not smoke marijuana myself, and the only reason I’m behind this is because the CBD does not have the psycho-active effect. So, if it can help the players, I’m all for it. Former players and current.
I do have some other things going on as a financial adviser and investment planner, but this is something I’ve recently signed on with, and I think that the NFL has to get behind it once they see the science. The lab research has been unbelievable and I’m behind it and I believe in it. I think in ten or twelve years, this is going to make athletics, especially in the NFL, better and safer.
JN: That’s great to hear that you’re taking on what could be a controversial issue but backing up your point of view with scientific data, this can definitely improve the quality of life for other players in the long term.
MW: I think that when the NFL comes out with its new drug policy in the coming weeks, that you’re going to see the de-criminalization of marijuana, and I understand how the NFL’s drug program works, and I don’t support recreational use, but this is something that can keep players healthy and they aren’t getting high. I think in the coming years, most states are going to have some type of laws on the books, de-criminalizing marijuana use. On the scientific side, if it’s developed the right way, it’s going to benefit athletes that play contact sports.
This concludes part I of our three part interview with former New York Jets defensive end Marvin Washington. Next week, we’ll discuss Marvin’s time with the Jets, and he’ll also talk about what it was like after leaving the Jets, only to face them in a conference championship game just two years later. You can find out more about Kannalife Sciences and their work with the NFL by clicking the link