Calvin John­son, known to mil­lions as Mega­tron, has also launched a med­ical mar­i­jua­na dis­pen­sary in Michi­gan.


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For­mer NFL star Calvin John­son has joined a grow­ing list of for­mer pro­fes­sion­al ath­letes who are get­ting into the mar­i­jua­na indus­try. He is a part­ner in a new enter­prise that is set to open med­ical mar­i­jua­na dis­pen­saries across Michi­gan.

But John­son is also tak­ing his part in the indus­try a step fur­ther, giv­ing mon­ey to Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty to help fund a study on the poten­tial of cannabis treat­ing CTE; which, accord­ing to a 2017 study from Boston Uni­ver­si­ty researchers, was found in 99% of for­mer foot­ball play­ers’ brains stud­ied.

John­son, who spent his career with the Detroit Lions and is mak­ing a six-fig­ure dona­tion to the research through his med­ical mar­i­jua­na com­pa­ny, Prim­i­tive, told ESPN that he believes his com­pa­ny “can be in a posi­tion to devel­op a treat­ment for CTE. ”

Relat­ed: Har­vard Study Say Cannabis May Help Fight Pan­cre­at­ic Can­cer

CTE is caused by repeated brain trauma

CTE stands for Chron­ic Trau­mat­ic Encephalopa­thy. It’s a degen­er­a­tive brain dis­ease that occurs in peo­ple who have repeat­ed brain trau­ma — which is exact­ly what you get in the NFL every Sun­day.

Symp­toms include demen­tia and amne­sia. Some have argued that CTE also has played a role in the deaths of for­mer play­ers who have tak­en their own lives or found it dif­fi­cult to live on their own. It’s been found both in cur­rent and retired play­ers.

How­ev­er, CTE is not lim­it­ed to only pro­fes­sion­al sports play­ers. Accord­ing to the afore­men­tioned Boston Uni­ver­si­ty study, CTE has been diag­nosed in mil­i­tary vet­er­ans and those who played sports in high school or col­lege and nev­er played again.

Relat­ed: Ex-NFL Play­er Steve Smith Sr. Calls Part­ner­ship With Cbd­MD ‘A Fam­i­ly Affair’

Johnson’s plans for his marijuana business

One of Calvin John­son’s busi­ness part­ners includes ex-NFL line­man Rob Sims, who also played for the Lions. The two co-own Prim­i­tive, and the pair plan to open a chain of med­ical mar­i­jua­na dis­pen­saries in Michi­gan.

John­son is also a mem­ber of the Michi­gan Cannabis Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion’s board of direc­tors.

John­son and Sims decid­ed to fund the CTE research after attend­ing the Har­vard’s Glob­al Cat­a­lyst Health Sum­mit in May 2019. The agree­ment to fund the research is with the Inter­na­tion­al Phy­tomed­i­cines and Med­ical Cannabis Insti­tute at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty. 

The insti­tute is study­ing not only poten­tial cannabis uses for treat­ing CTE, but also oth­er dis­eases, such as can­cer. 

John­son and Sims also cre­at­ed a part­ner­ship with brain-per­for­mance com­pa­ny NESTRE as part of the deal, accord­ing to the ESPN arti­cle.

John­son told the Detroit Free-Press that the part­ner­ship will help move cannabis into the main­stream. Despite years of legal­iza­tion in states across the coun­try, some still view the mar­i­jua­na indus­try with a skep­ti­cal eye, John­son said, includ­ing his own fam­i­ly.

John­son added, “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.”

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