Calvin Johnson, a former Detroit Lions wide receiver and ex-NFL lineman Rob Sims, have teamed up with Harvard University to research the benefits of medical marijuana, specifically in the areas of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the management of pain.

Johnson and Sims own the cannabis company Primitive. The deal with Harvard includes a six-figure donation, with the option for future money, to the International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute at Harvard during the Cannabis Capital Conference in Detroit on Thursday.

“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.”

“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. 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.”

“Never in a million years, man,” Sims said. “I was trying to get Calvin to flip one or two houses with me two years ago, and then we ended up getting into cannabis real estate, and then we ended up getting into the licensing part of it, and now we’re getting into the medicine part of it.

“So it’s been quite a journey, and I’m just looking forward to the future.”

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