Former Broncos tight end Nate Jackson believes that marijuana helped him overcome physical and psychological pain in the NFL, allowing him to walk away from the game without lasting repercussions.
"It kept my brain clean," Jackson said Wednesday during the Cannabis Business Executives Breakfast, according to Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press.
Jackson said during the conference that he avoided painkillers as much as possible during his six years in the NFL, using marijuana instead.
"I feel like I exited the game with my mind intact. And I credit that to marijuana in a lot of ways and not getting hooked on these pain pills that are recklessly distributed in the league when a guy gets an injury," Jackson said.
Marijuana is among the banned substances in the NFL, even in states including Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is legal for both recreational and medical use. Jackson argued that the NFL will soon allow the drug.
"I don't ever think the league will come out with like a marijuana banner. They're never going to say, `Hey, marijuana, it's great for everyone!' But I think what they will do is remove it from the banned substances list and stop punishing people for it," Jackson said. "It actually keeps it in the news more when it is a banned substance than if it weren't.
"Josh Gordon's in the news for weed. These other guys are in the news for weed. That wouldn't happen anymore."
Marijuana use is not comparable to performance-enhancing drug use, Jackson said.
"I consider it a performance-inspiring drug," he said.
In response to Jackon's comments, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said "there is no need for medical marijuana to be prescribed to an NFL player."
This story has been updated from a previous version to include a response from the NFL.