For years, professional athletes have been lobbying for their leagues to allow the use of medical cannabis. In particular, to treat the injuries they suffer in game play and as an alternative to traditional opioid medication. Until now the NFL, and every other professional league, has pretty much ignored that call.

But the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has stepped forward to show the other leagues what human decency looks like. The only problem is that the UFC cannabis deal actually smells a little bit more like schwag than nugs.

UFC has teamed with behemoth Canadian weed company Aurora Cannabis to run a test on fighters, seeing how CBD does in treating their aches and pains. The research will be the first of its kind for professional athletes, Dr. Jeff Chen, director of UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative, told CNN.

“Collaborating with Aurora is the best way to educate ourselves and our fighters about the impact of CBD on MMA athletes and our sport,” Dr. Duncan French, UFC’s vice president of performance, said in a statement. “We want to apply science and see where it leads us. Ideally, these studies will give us the clarity we need to determine the effectiveness of hemp-derived CBD on athlete health and injury recovery.”

Sounds good. However, some point out the specifics of the study make it sound like it might serve some interests other than medical science and the good of mankind.

The research is structured in a way right of the “Pharma textbook,” according to Dr. Chen. That is, it’s funded by a company which is selling the very medicine being tested, presenting a pretty obvious conflict of interest.

However, Chen notes that pharmaceutical companies, which are not always considered the picture of ethical integrity, generally go through a third-party research outfit to at least pretend to have some distance from the study.

In this case, Aurora Cannabis itself is conducting the study, with the company’s own  chair of Global Scientifc Oversight John Dyck, Ph.D., and vice president of global research and medical affairs Kelly Narine, Ph.D. heading up research.

When the study is concluded, Aurora says it is hoping that it will open the door to many new avenues of research and also that they will get a new line of CBD products aimed specifically at athletes out of it.

Photo via Flickr user In The Clinch

Natalie