Calvin Johnson, Rob Sims Partner with Harvard in Marajuana/CTE Research

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Calvin Johnson
USA Today Sports

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and his business partner, former NFL lineman Rob Sims, have partnered with Harvard University to research the benefits of medical marijuana in the areas of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and pain management, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein.

Johnson and Sims, who own the cannabis company Primitive, announced the partnership that includes a sizeable donation of six-figures with an option for future money, to the International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute at Harvard on Tuesday during the Cannabis Capital Conference in Detroit, Michigan.

“We can be in position to develop a treatment for CTE,” Sims said, according to ESPN’s report. “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.”

“As being former athletes, we know there’s some sort of CTE or some sort of damage, 99% I think they say in the study,” Sims said. “So that means I may be walking around with some form of it. It’s really about the hope. Just providing hope, improving the game, making the game safer for former players after they are done.

“Really just being able to help people. I’m a second-generation NFL kid; both my father and father-in-law [played]. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of what it looks like when you’re done playing ball. If we can help this facet of people suffering from CTE or other cognitive disease, that’s the real goal here.”

Harvard will perform medical research for Primitive, which will see them run clinical trials related to CTE and pain management, as well as provide quality assurance from Harvard Medical School for any products the company creates.

“As being former athletes, we know there’s some sort of CTE or some sort of damage, 99% I think they say in the study,” Sims said. “So that means I may be walking around with some form of it. It’s really about the hope. Just providing hope, improving the game, making the game safer for former players after they are done.

“Really just being able to help people. I’m a second-generation NFL kid; both my father and father-in-law [played]. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of what it looks like when you’re done playing ball. If we can help this facet of people suffering from CTE or other cognitive disease, that’s the real goal here.”

“What our mission is going to be is just to improve quality of life,” Sims said. “So, you know, with NESTRE and the brain training and the human optimization, we believe there’s a way to continue to improve your brain function through working out.

“Then, from our position, with that data that we’ll be able to gain, we believe that we can produce plant medicines, or cannabis, using nanotechnology to deliver payloads to areas where people would have symptoms of CTE, like mood and anxiety and memory loss. That’s the goal in the end.”

The group is hopeful that clinical trials can begin during the first quarter of 2020.