It’s time for the NFL to take the lead “in developing a more rational and science-based approach to marijuana,” three former players have written in a Huffington Post commentary.

Brendon Ayanbadejo, Scott Fujita and Marvin Washington write that “many former and current NFL players use or have used marijuana to treat pain associated with injuries sustained on the field. There is a compelling body of research showing that marijuana can help treat pain and brain injuries.” They’d like to see Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league lead the way.

First and foremost, the NFL should allocate financial resources to advance medical research on the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating brain injuries. In the case of trauma, a lot of inflammation occurs, which affects cognitive functioning and neural connectivity. A compound in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) has shown scientific potential to be an antioxidant and neuroprotectant for the brain. In a sport where closed head injuries are common, the league should be doing everything it can to help keep their players healthy during and after their careers. If the NFL wants to continue to grow its game, it must investigate potential medical solutions for its industrial disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Even the federal government holds a patent on marijuana for this purpose.

The three are no strangers to the ways of the NFL and they have to know that the changes they’re advocating are longshots for such a staid organization — especially one that is coming scandals related to domestic violence and child abuse last fall.

As former NFL players, we recognize our role as leaders and role models. We firmly believe that reforming marijuana policies can, indeed must, go hand in hand with discouraging young people from using marijuana and other drugs. There is no place any longer, either in the NFL or the nation at large, for the injustices and hypocrisies of prohibitionist marijuana policies. It’s time for the NFL to be a leader and create a rational and science-based marijuana policy.