Two-time Super Bowl champion Leonard Marshall was diagnosed with CTE in 2013 after testing with Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith in the movie Concussion), Dr. Julian Bales (played by Alec Baldwin in Concussion) and a number of other experts. It was a groundbreaking find, as CTE had previously only been found in the deceased.
“The scary thing about CTE and the disease is that you have good days, you have bad days,” Marshall told NY Sports Day. “There are days where you think of suicide, where you think of the ramifications of suicide and you have challenges when it comes to mood swings, the ability to recall situations, your short term memory and your lapses in judgment, and in making good judgment and good decisions when it comes to your life as well as others that you love.”
Marshall will be a keynote speaker at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCExpo) at the Javits Center, which will take place from June 15-17 in New York City. Marshall’s keynote is on the 16th, and he will also moderate a panel discussion on “CTE, Concussion and CBD” that afternoon. Marshall and a growing number of active NFL players say medical marijuana is a better option for game-related pain than highly addictive opioid drugs. A large number of players sued the NFL in 2015, claiming that teams urged them to use harmful painkillers to stay on the field.
“The use of medical marijuana should help players deal with early stage Parkinson’s, ALS, PTSD, and some of the other cognitive impairments which are caused by collisions in football,” the 12-year NFL veteran said. “I think it’s a great idea, especially since it’s a proven example that there are other ways to treat this and deal with this and help families that are in need of assistance, versus them becoming hooked on painkillers.”
Marshall has a daughter in college and is concerned about what he’ll have to offer her in the future.
“The one thing I want to make sure of is that whatever [she needs in order to be successful in life], I’m going to do my damndest to make sure I can provide. And if I can’t provide, I’m going to make sure that those that put me in that position to where I damaged myself and created that cognitive impairment, that those people act in a responsible manner to help me treat and deal and cope with this as it relates to my life going forward.” Marshall said.
The panel Marshall will moderate includes several former NFL and NHL players including Heather Jackson, CEO, Realm of Caring Foundation, and Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, Ph.D, laboratory director/principal investigator, Center for Innovation to Implementation. They will discuss how the use of cannabinoids may help treat and prevent the onset of symptoms associated with CTE and traumatic brain injury. Among the players on the panel will be ex-Bears Super Bowl quarterback Jim McMahon, who has openly said medical marijuana helped him stop abusing addictive narcotics to combat post-retirement health issues.
The expo is hardly a place for recreational weed users to hang out.
“This is not an end-consumer event,” Christine Ianuzzi, one of the Cannabis World Congress organizers, told the New York Daily News. “We are providing a very professional attitude, and a marketplace for businesses.”