Retired NFL Star Calvin Johnson Partners With Harvard to Research Treating CTE With Marijuana

Johnson co-owns a cannabis company in Michigan called Primitive

NFL Players Partner With Harvard on Treating CTE With Marijuana
Ex-Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. (Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty)
Corbis via Getty Images
By Evan Bleier / August 16, 2019 9:09 am

Some former Detroit Lions players, including star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, are partnering with Harvard University to conduct research to determine if marijuana could be an effective treatment for CTE.

Johnson and his former teammate Robert Sims opened up a cannabis company in Michigan called Primitive after getting approval in February and Harvard will do medical research for the firm as part of the partnership.

That will include conducting clinical trials related to CTE and pain as well as enlisting Harvard Medical School to provide quality assurance for any products Primitive creates.

“We can be in position to develop a treatment for CTE,” Sims told ESPN. “There’s been suggestion that CBD (cannabidiol, a compound in cannabis) and stuff can help cognitive disease, and we think that potentially there could be a treatment going forward that we can produce.”

On Sims and Johnson’s end, they will be making a six-figure donation to the International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute at Harvard and may be donating additional cash in the future.

“With the stigma associated with this industry, a lot of my family, including my mother, looked at me like ‘Have you lost your mind?’ ” he said during the Cannabis Capital Conference in Detroit, according to The Detroit Free Press. “But when you all of a sudden add that we have a partnership with Harvard because we’re trying to find the best medicine, that changes a lot of minds.”

Prior to opening primitive, Sims and Johnson worked together in the real estate business and also opened a consulting firm.

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