By Kathy Walsh
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Can a compound found in cannabis help football players suffering from brain trauma? A former Denver Broncos quarterback is convinced it can. Jake Plummer has joined an effort to raise money for medical research to prove it.
Plummer played 10 seasons in the NFL, his final four with the Denver Broncos.
“I wouldn’t change a thing about it because I played for the fun and the love of the game,” Plummer told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
He admitted he took countless hits before he retired.
“I’m glad I called it quits when I did,” said Plummer.
And he wonders if those hits will come back to haunt him. Plummer appears in a new public service campaign called When the Bright Lights Fade.
“I found myself asking the question was it worth it? And still to this day, I ask that question,” Plummer says in the campaign video.
Four other former football players also appear in the campaign, including Reuben Droughns, a retired NFL running back who spent some time in Denver.
“You can probably ask most of them have they thought about suicide? I’m sure a lot of them will tell you they have,” Droughns said.
The campaign explains “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” or CTE, a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma. It’s believed 96% of former NFL players suffer from it.
In the video, former Bronco running back Tatum Bell says, “Lot of guys suffer from concussions and it’s a big thing now. I wish it would have been taken more seriously when I was playing.”
The campaign is a call to action. The players want to raise money for research into cannabidiol or CBD, a compound in cannabis. Plummer says he’s taken CBD for about a year.
“I can attest it definitely helped me. Not just inflammation, my mind, my mental clarity, my mood swings. I’m less aggressive if someone makes me mad,” Plummer said.
Colorado is ground zero for CBD because of the Stanley brothers. The marijuana growers discovered a strain of cannabis they called “Hippie’s Disappointment”. It was so low in THC it couldn’t get you high. But a mother gave the CBD oil to her epileptic daughter and says 300 seizures a week have nearly stopped. It’s now called “Charlotte’s Web”. Thousands of families and at least one former quarterback swear by it.
“It’s kind of a wonder medicine in my mind,” said Plummer.
Joel Stanley is the eldest of the Stanley brothers and co-founder of CW Botanicals.
“I think we have a tool here that can potentially help former players, current players, and the sport itself,” Stanley told Walsh.
His initial goal is to raise $100,000 to fund research at Johns Hopkins University.
“It’s time to take all of this mountain of anecdotal evidence and turn it into real meaningful data,” said Stanley.
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But he knows the stigma is marijuana.
“If this compound, CBD, came from dandelion flower it would be so much easier to raise the money get the research done,” said Stanley.
Plummer was asked “What have you heard from the NFL? He answered, “Nothing yet.”
But the former player and the marijuana grower are undeterred.
They believe in CBD. And they believe it’s time to prove its power.