Many people at HIGH TIMES are die-hard NFL football fans. If you watched games this weekend, you couldn’t help but notice an abundance of hot pink all over the field, players, referees, even the normally-yellow digital first down line.

Yes, it’s October in the NFL, which means it is time for their annual “A Crucial Catch” campaign. For the past five years, the NFL has partnered with the American Cancer Society to promote breast cancer screening awareness for women. The pink marketing campaign encourages women to get checked for the disease and the NFL promises auctions of game-worn pink items will benefit breast cancer research.

If the NFL were truly concerned about breast cancer research, they should drop the pink and turn to the green -- cannabis. In 2007, ABC News reported on the work of Sean D. McAllister, an associate scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco.

McAllister's work showed that cannabidiol (CBD) blocks the progress of metastatic breast cancer. This research has been duplicated for other cancers since then, and builds on research dating all the way back to 1974, when a research team at the Medical College of Virginia first discovered delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) "slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36%."

It’s not like we expect the NFL to suddenly put pot leafs all over the field and players (imagine!) but they could take steps to not demonize it, at least by removing cannabis from the drug-testing regimen of the players. Considering all of the toxic, addictive painkillers players get addicted to (remember Brett Favre?), the NFL should not penalize players for seeking relief from a safer substance. And now that we have research showing that cannabinoids can help protect and repair brain tissue following concussion, the NFL ought to have a Volcano Vaporizer in the locker room for any player who just “got his bell rung.”]

Some critics believe the NFL is merely engaged in a marketing campaign to appeal to female fans, a demographic heavily coveted by the league. During the first four years of the pink campaign, beginning in 2009, the NFL donated $4.5 million to cancer charities and research, according to Sports on Earth. In 2009 the league-wide revenue of the NFL was $8 billion-- over 1,777 times more money in one year than they donated to cancer over four years. This year, the NFL agreed to settle concussion-related class-action lawsuits for $765 million -- over 170 times more money than they donated to cancer over four years.

Educating women on the need for breast cancer screening and providing health care for the men whose brains suffered for the game are laudable moves, but that is no reason for the NFL to ignoring cannabis’ promise of prevention and treatment for cancer and concussion. At least next week, the penalty flags will be back to yellow -- it turns out having penalty flags the same color as the player’s hand towels wasn’t a popular idea.

 
"Radical" Russ Belville is the host of The Russ Belville Show.