Kyle Turley has long promoted the medical benefits of traditional marijuana and how, he believes, it saved his life. He says the NFL’s decision this week to add the synthetic form of the drug to its list of banned substances under the league’s drug policy is “quite pathetic.”

In an interview with Sporting News, Turley — a former offensive lineman for the Saints, Rams and Chiefs — acknowledged the danger of synthetic marijuana, calling it “poison.” He also cited the January incident involving then-Patriots linebacker Chandler Jones as the reason the league put it on the banned list.

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Turley’s argument is players won’t turn to something that needs banning if they are able to use traditional marijuana. “I don’t know what prompted (Jones) to use that but I’m pretty sure nobody else does (in the NFL),” Turley said. “Furthermore, it’s quite sad that the NFL has pushed players to say, ‘You know what? I’ll try this synthetic marijuana because I’ve got to get off this other marijuana because I don’t want to test positive for that.’

“That’s just quite pathetic on the NFL’s part for not just acknowledging and it’s kind of a slap in the face to what’s going on, the conversation that’s being had right now on the medical benefits of marijuana.

“It’s unbelievable that players are not allowed (to use traditional marijuana) and the NFL is not advancing the science on marijuana when so many things are being found out about it as a neuroprotectant.

“What they did to (Jones), they made him believe he’s going to lose his job, he’s going to lose his livelihood if he uses marijuana. So what does he do? He uses this ‘Spice’ crap.”

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Synthetic marijuana is also known as “Spice,” “K2” and “Blaze.”  Jones had a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana that resulted in a trip to a police station. The Patriots later traded him to the Cardinals.

The marijuana discussion in the NFL and the United States is a lot like political conversations with people from opposite extremes; it can be polarizing. I’d ask every one to keep an open mind, however.

Turley is steadfast in his belief that using marijuana saved him from suffering the same fate as Dave Duerson, Andre Waters and Justin Strzelczyk before him. Those former players all died at a young age; Duerson and Waters committed suicide. It was later reported that all three were suffering from the degenerative brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Turley has said he suffered two documented concussions in his career and “over 100” that were not diagnosed.

MORE: Cris Carter speculates Jones’ Spice was laced with PCP

In our conversation, Turley hammered home his message, point-by-point:

— The U.S. government has a patent on cannabis as a neuroprotectant.

— Studies suggest cannabis can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and be used in treatment.

— Families are moving to states where medical marijuana is legal so they can treat their children’s seizures.

The NFL should give serious consideration to lifting the ban on traditional marijuana. If the league truly cares about the health and well-being of its players, it should at least have that conversation.

MORE: NFL reportedly curious about marijuana uses

To those afr

aid to accept this reality, listen to Turley’s message and the story he shares.

It’s time for the league to meet the science head-on.

Pat Imig is a featured host of “We Are Live!” on 590 The Fan in St. Louis. He thinks people should stop looking at Turley as a long-haired helmet-tosser and consider his genuine message. Email him at [email protected]