Former Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson and Rob Sims are partnering with Harvard University to research the effects of cannabis on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and pain management, according to an ESPN report. Johnson, a former wide receiver, and Sims, a former lineman, co-own medical cannabis firm Primitive.
The deal includes an undisclosed six-figure donation to the International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute at Harvard. The university will conduct the medical research, run clinical trials and its medical school will provide quality assurance for any products created by the company.
“Really just being able to help people. I’m a second-generation NFL kid, both my father and father-in-law. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of what it looks like when you’re done playing ball. If we can help this facet of people suffering from CTE or other cognitive disease, that’s the real goal here.” – Sims, to ESPN
Sims said the company hopes that the study will help the company produce plant-based medicines, use nanotechnology to “deliver payloads” to areas of the brain affected by CTE.
Sims said the company started two years ago after he and Johnson got into cannabis-related real estate. Johnson recently joined the board of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association after Primitive received approval to open a medical cannabis dispensary in the state.
Former National Football League running back Ricky Williams launched a cannabis brand last year, while in 2016 the Baltimore Ravens released offensive tackle Eugene Monroe after he called on the league to remove cannabis from its banned substances list and fund research into using cannabis as a CTE treatment. At that time, Monroe said he couldn’t “say for sure” whether his release was related to his activism.
Last year, the league denied free agent running back Mike James an exemption for using cannabis as a painkiller but announced this year that the league and the player’s union were creating a Joint Pain Management Committee that will include cannabis and cannabinoids as part of its research into pain management and alternative therapies.