Calvin Johnson, Harvard Partner to Research Benefits of Marijuana to Treat CTE

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2019

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Calvin Johnson attends the Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Former NFL players Calvin Johnson and Rob Sims have partnered with Harvard University to research the effects of medical marijuana on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.

"We can be in position to develop a treatment for CTE," Sims said. "There's been suggestion that CBD [cannabidiol] and stuff can help cognitive disease, and we think that potentially there could be a treatment going forward that we can produce."

Johnson and Sims opened up a marijuana dispensary in Michigan called Primitive after getting approval in February. As Johnson explained in April, he wanted to take more of a "holistic approach" to recovery after getting opioids from NFL doctors throughout his career, per Evan Veryard of Capital 10X.

The company is now looking to potentially help brain injuries with the latest study.

As part of the partnership, Primitive agreed to a six-figure donation to the International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute at Harvard. 

The university will also do medical research for Primitive and run clinical trials related to CTE, which could begin as early as 2020.

They are also working with the brain performance company NESTRE to continue the research.

CTE has affected countless former NFL players, with the degenerative disease found in 110 of 111 subjects in a 2017 study, according to Joe Ward, Josh Williams and Sam Manchester of the New York Times

Johnson and Sims each played nine years in the NFL.

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