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Derrick Morgan has researched medical cannabis, says it's NFL's turn

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Morgan has done thorough research on impact of cannabis (1:12)

In a conversation with ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky, Derrick Morgan showed a wealth of knowledge about why the NFL should study the medical benefits of cannabis. (1:12)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan has done extensive research on the potential medical benefits of cannabis and said it's incumbent upon the NFL to study it.

"I just take the NFL for their word: If they say that long-term health and player safety are top priorities of the league, then why aren't you looking into all the options for health care that are out there?" he said in an interview with ESPN. "It's definitely incumbent upon them to really delegate some time and some resources to look into it."

Morgan joined former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe in calling for NFL cannabis research on June 23 in an appearance on Yahoo! Global News. Monroe was since released by Baltimore and has retired from the NFL.

"I just take the NFL for their word: If they say that long-term health and player safety are top priorities of the league, then why aren't you looking into all the options for health care that are out there?"

Derrick Morgan

That leaves Morgan as the lone active NFL player to speak out about cannabis research, though he said he's shared his extensive homework with other players and expects some will come forward to join him as cannabis is de-stigmatized.

He said he got overall very positive response from a variety of people, from players to doctors to politicians.

Skeptics may wonder if Morgan is a casual user of marijuana. He said has never failed a drug test for marijuana, has never used it and cannot now because of the NFL's rules against it.

"I think anyone who says that is missing the point," he said. "We are obviously bound by the testing protocol. It's something that we are not able to use. You've got to understand where the motive is coming from. If that was the case, then there are a lot of people who are wanting to use recreationally. If that's the main motive, why would somebody speak up about it? Just to blow their cover?"

"It's spreading the awareness of it from a medicinal standpoint."

The key to getting the NFL to do the sort of research Morgan desires is the rescheduling of marijuana as a drug by the FDA.

"They group them together with LSD, heroin, things along those lines with no medicinal value," he said. "If you're a Schedule I drug, then they are basically saying there is no medical value. So for cannabis to have a Schedule I rating, is inaccurate, I know that probably in August, September, the DEA is looking to hopefully reschedule it, or at least certain compounds of the plant, so it'll be more widely available for people putting it in the same category that the opioids are in. So it'll be easier to research. I think that, in and of itself, will open up another dialogue between the league and its players and the PA."

Morgan said he's concerned about his future after football. He was the Titans' first-round pick out of Georgia Tech in 2010 and is heading into the second year of a four-year, $27 million contract that included including $10.5 million guaranteed. In 76 career games, he has 27.5 sacks.

He missed the final six games of 2015 with a shoulder injury which limited his play in the weeks before he was shelved. The Titans didn't use him in team drills during the offseason, but he's slated to be full go when the team starts training camp practices Saturday.

"CTE, all this stuff is real ... that's unsettling as a player," he said. "You want to be able to think that you are going to be there for your family in full capacity, that you're going to be able to be an active member, contributing member of society. With something like that, I've got to look at what my options are. If this happens to be an option, which I think it will be, then I'm going to look into it ..."

"Every player is in a different position. But at the root of it, if your motivation is being proactive about preserving your health, then I don't think you should have to tippy-toe around anything."