NFL Medical Chief Retirement Brings New Hope for Medical Cannabis


Ryan Allway

August 3rd, 2016

News, Top Story


National Football League Commissioner Rodger Goodell recently announced in a memo sent to all 32 teams that Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Pellman would be retiring after nearly 30 years of service. The new job opening creates an opportunity for the league to hire a forward-thinking individual who may be willing to study and implement medical cannabis treatments for conditions like traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussions.

Medical Marijuana Inc. (OTC: MJNA) has been focused on developing treatments for TBI and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) using cannabinoids through its investment in Kannalife. In fact, Kannalife holds two licenses (one exclusive) to develop the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) U.S. Patent #6,630,507, which was filed by the Nobel Prize winning biochemist Julius Axelrod to cover cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.

In this article, we will take a look at the retirement decision and why the NFL may be incentivized to hire someone open to medical cannabis treatment options and how Medical Marijuana Inc. could be well positioned to capitalize on such a move.

Dangerous Thinking

Dr. Elliot Pellman’s retirement shouldn’t be surprising to anyone closely following the story of brain-related injuries in the NFL. The rheumatologist with no formal training in neurology or brain science famously denied that there was a link between head trauma and certain diseases of the brain despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Dr. Pellman even went so far as to accuse independent researchers of promoting “junk science” at the expense of players’ health.

It ultimately took a PBS Documentary titled League of Denial, a feature length film titled Concussion, and a lawsuit involving thousands of retired players to force the league to change its stance. In many ways, the situation was reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s response to lung cancer studies. The league has taken some steps to admit wrongdoing – including a billion dollar settlement of the former players’ lawsuit and more than $60 million in donations to study head trauma – but it took until now for Dr. Pellmen to retire / be retired by the League.

According to NFL sources, Dr. Pellman agreed to retire under Goodell’s request. Goodell wrote in his memo to teams that the new position would be aimed at expanding upon initiatives and expert resources that are “designed to accelerate science, identify new technologies and means of preventing and treating injuries, and make our sport safer.” A panel of health and medical experts would also head the search.

Mounting Evidence

Many football players believe that medical marijuana is instrumental in their efforts to address concussion related issues. Unfortunately, there aren’t many studies to back up the use of cannabis or specific cannabinoids for these cases. Dr. Stuart Titus of Medical Marijuana Inc. and Kannalife Sciences recently told Forbes that Kannalife has perfomed the pre-clinical work and developed a new cannabinoid-like, neuro-protective molecule.  The KSI team is advancing through the animal testing phase at Temple University.

Traumatic brain injury following a blow to the head leads to excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, and inflammation that causes secondary, delayed neuronal death. Cannabinoids have been shown to offer neural protective benefits and reduce the amount of brain damage from TBI in a number of animal studies. In particular, cannabinoids act on CB1 and CB2 receptors that prevent the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause the neuronal damage.

To illustrate the potential neuro-protective benefits of cannabis / cannabinoids, there was a UCLA study conducted on 446 adults that suffered from traumatic brain injury looking for correlations with cannabis usage. Of those patients in the study, those that had been regular cannabis users were 80% more likely to survive the TBI event. These findings should at least justify additional research in the area of cannabinoids for the treatment concussions and TBI – a connection that the NFL has avoided making in the past.  This study was reported in The American Surgeon and covered by Reuters.

Unique Rights

Entrepreneur Thoma Kikis and former investment banker Dean Petkanas founded Kannalife in 2010. Rather than focusing on the medical marijuana side of the industry, the two decided to focus their attention on the pharmaceutical side where they had experience. In particular, they focused on cannabidiol – or CBD – as opposed to the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol – or THC.

In order to address pharmaceutical development issues, Kannalife produced synthetic versions of CBD based on its natural chemical composition but with slight variations in order to create a ‘super-CBD’ that the Kannalife team says is 50 times more potent, 500 times safer, and 10 times more bioavailable than natural CBD products that are extracted directly from the hemp or marijuana plant.  This is the company’s flagship molecule, known as KLS-13019 and has a U.S. patent pending.

Kannalife’s next step is to complete testing of KLS-13019 through animal studies to ensure that it has the same neuroprotective qualities as CBD. After that, they will move on to human studies and figure out the best way to encapsulate the molecule. The story has become so compelling in the sports industry that Sports Illustrated ran a feature on the company back on July 12, 2016.

Looking Ahead

The retirement of Dr. Elliot Pellmen marks a key turning point in the NFL’s (to date poorly handled) response to concussions and brain injuries. With former players like Eugene Monroe actively fighting for the use of cannabis as a treatment for CTE for years, the incoming Chief Medical Officer has the potential to reverse the direction that the NFL has been headed down and ultimately improve the lives of countless players – past and present.

Medical Marijuana Inc. is uniquely positioned to benefit from this change in stance through its 16.7% stake in Kannalife. With its licenses from the NIH for the commercialization of ‘Patent 507’, the team is looking to build revolutionary treatments for oxidative brain diseases like CTE and TBI. These treatments – if commercialized – could in turn deliver significant shareholder value to investors in Kannalife and Medical Marijuana Inc.

For Medical Marijuana stakeholders, while waiting for the Kannalife Sciences team to get through its pharmaceutical development for a FDA-approved traumatic brain injury / CTE medication, MJNA offers botanical based CBD products.  Referencing the UCLA study which points to potentially significant neuro-protection from traumatic brain injury – the company believes ALL FOOTBALL PLAYERS should be taking cannabinoids as a preventative measure.  Acting as a “second football helmet” that is always with the player, professional, college and high school football players should take comfort in knowing that cannabinoids in the original botanical form are available for their future benefit.  Further, the company reinforces that not all cannabinoids are psychoactive and that CBD may be right for them.

Investors interested in capitalizing on the potential for cannabinoids to treat concussion-related diseases may want to consider Medical Marijuana Inc. for their portfolios, especially given its diversification across several areas of the cannabis industry.

This article was published by CFN Enterprises Inc. (OTCQB: CNFN), owner and operator of CFN Media, the industry’s leading agency and digital financial media network dedicated to the burgeoning CBD and legal cannabis industries. Call +1 (833) 420-CNFN for more information.

Ryan Allway

About Ryan Allway

Mr. Allway has over a decade of experience in the financial markets as both a private investor and financial journalist. He has been actively involved in the cannabis industry since its inception, covering public and private companies.

Disclaimer: Except for the historical information presented herein, matters discussed in this article contain forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Emerging Growth LLC dba TDM Financial, which owns CannabisFN, is not registered with any financial or securities regulatory authority, and does not provide nor claims to provide investment advice or recommendations to readers of this release. Emerging Growth LLC dba TDM Financial, which owns CannabisFN, may from time to time have a position in the securities mentioned herein and will increase or decrease such positions without notice. For making specific investment decisions, readers should seek their own advice and that of their own professional advisers. Emerging Growth LLC dba TDM Financial, which owns CannabisFN, may be compensated for its Services in the form of cash-based and/or equity- based compensation in the companies it writes about, or a combination of the two. For full disclosure please visit: https://www.cannabisfn.com/legal-disclaimer/.



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