The NHL Alumni Association has signed an agreement with Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth Corporation, alumni executive director Glenn Healy announced Saturday, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
Canopy Growth will finance a blind randomized study involving 100 retired players in the Toronto area, which will attempt to determine whether cannabinoids can help former players quit opioids, a source told TSN's Rick Westhead. If the results are encouraging, Canopy Growth will fund a subsequent study with more subjects.
"This is a crystallizing moment," neurosurgeon Dr. Amin Kassam told Westhead. "We're going to be using high-resolution imaging, biomarkers, ocular, vestibular testing. We have a big need, the right agenda and the right people.
"The NHL alumni are willing to commit their privacy and their souls to help others in the community and I think Canopy is the real deal when it comes to the medical science. They have the science. Their facility at Smiths Falls is best in class. It's as good a bio laboratory as you'll find in the world. They are not growing weed in the backyard."
Healy will provide Dr. Kassam with the names and contact information of retired NHLers residing in Toronto in the coming weeks. From there, Dr. Kassam and his research team will determine which interested former players are appropriate candidates for the study.
"We hear plenty of anecdotes from athletes about how cannabinoids are helping them, but we don't have any good robust data to prove that and we're addressing this with a credible partner," Canopy Growth chief medical officer Dr. Mark Ware said.
Of the expected 100 participants, 80 would be given CBD pills while 20 receive a placebo. Neither the doctors nor the subjects will know which participants receive which pills until after the study.
CBD comes from the cannabis plant but doesn't possess THC, the ingredient that gets users "high." It has been used to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and inflammation.