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Former Broncos player Nate Jackson fights for medical marijuana rights for NFL players

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DENVER -- The Cannabis Business Conference, “Sports, Meds and Money” is drawing celebrities, successful business owners and those who want to gain success in the booming marijuana market.

Hosted by Clover Leaf Consulting, the conference brings investors together with established marijuana vendors.

A quarter of a million dollars in deals is expected to be made during the course of the event, held through March 6 at Casselman’s Bar and Venue.

A major topic is how medical marijuana can help injured athletes and the roadblocks standing in their way. More than 300 players were injured last season.  Many who enjoy long careers suffer the consequences of long term pain and brain injuries.

Studies show medical marijuana can help ease pain and even improve brain function in some cases but the NFL has banned its use.

Former Denver Broncos wide receiver and current author Nate Jackson says it’s time for the NFL to reconsider. “It provides a sensible alternative to the industry standard of treating injuries in the NFL.”

Jackson outlined the tough realities of playing in the NFL in his book "Slow Getting Up."

He said many players feel they don't share the same rights as everyone else in a society that is changing its views of marijuana. “That's what these guys are dealing with, a state that has legalized it not just for medical purposes but recreationally and a league that penalizes them.”

The players are receiving support from many in the medical community.

Martha Montemayor of Healthy Choices Unlimited said, “They are butting heads every day and concussions are rampant. Cannabis has some anti-dementia properties.”

The NFL is under a lot of pressure from groups like the Marijuana Policy Project, which sponsors billboard campaigns designed to shame the organization into lifting the ban.

While Jackson emphasizes that medical marijuana isn’t for everyone, he hopes continued open discussion about its benefits will eventually change the climate in the NFL and provide players with a wider range of options. “They're a little leery of this kind of cultural shift but as it happens they're going to be confronted with the fact that they're going to have to address it and it's the compassionate thing to do.”