CBD Use In Major Sports
Read Time: 5 minutes
Many of the world’s most successful athletes have dabbled in CBD at one point or another. Playing major sports takes a considerable toll on the body— with most sports players experiencing terrible injuries throughout their career. Ryan VandenBussche, for example, took 20 years of collisions, bare-knuckle brawls, and hockey-related injuries that led to countless surgeries and broken bones throughout his professional hockey career.
He's not alone, either. NFL and NBA players experience injuries on a near-daily basis. Before the green rush, doctors would prescribe opiates and painkillers to help them manage their near-daily pain.¹ "All the doctors ever gave us was codeine, Tylenol-Codeine No.3, and other stuff," said retired NFL linebacker David Ahrens.
He said that pain pills were handed out like candy to keep players in performing condition, with no regard for their long-term health or safety. Looking back, VandenBussche wonders how he's even alive after using pharmaceutical painkillers and anti-anxiety medications for such a long period of time.
These are just two of the many current and former professional sports athletes who have turned to CBD to manage pain, recover from injuries, and keep their bodies in top shape. Along with dozens of others, they endorse CBD for these uses over conventional medications for long-term use. But how exactly is CBD used in major sports, and is it even legal for them to play under the influence of CBD? Here's everything you need to know.
Can professional athletes use CBD?
In short, yes, professional sports players can use CBD perfectly legally. In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances, making CBD legal for athletes to use in or out of competition.² However, in most sports leagues, marijuana itself is still banned.³
Marijuana and cannabinoid use in sports were taboo subjects a few years back. Many athletes have been thrown off their teams or left disgraced in the public eye over marijuana use, even though medical marijuana exists and many people can use it recreationally. The biggest issue isn't that they're doing it— it's more a question of whether or not these substances are fair to use while playing sports.
As time goes on and the stigma surrounding cannabis begins to subside, a fair bit of research has gone into the subject of cannabinoids and sports. The results show mainly that CBD and even THC don't improve your game at all.⁴ They don't act like steroids in the sense that they'll take your game to the next level and put an athlete who partakes in a league of their own. More or less, they're best used for post-game recovery and pre-game rituals.
Below, you can find a few of the CBD and marijuana laws for each professional sports league.
NBA — Basketball players aren't being tested for marijuana this season, and Al Harrington, former NBA player and founder of Harrington Wellness, Inc., is pushing to remove both CBD and THC from the list of banned substances.⁵ Per WADA, they can use CBD.
NFL — NFL players can use CBD legally after an agreement with the NFLPA.⁶ They must also test below the threshold for THC, though THC is treated more like alcohol in this league.
NHL — Hockey players in the NHL have very loose restrictions.⁷ Cannabinoids have never been banned for hockey players, so they're allowed to use CBD and THC.
MLB — Professional baseball players can partake in CBD. They can also treat marijuana like alcohol and have removed marijuana from the list of banned substances.⁸
PGA — CBD is used widely amongst people who play golf, even professionally. The WADA prohibition change allowed golfers and Olympic athletes to use CBD legally. However, golfers still can’t use THC.⁹
Why do major sports players want to use CBD?
There's a lot to like about CBD, especially if you play a sport. CBD helps some people with pain, inflammation, anxiety symptoms, or pre-game jitters with no psychoactive effects or "highs." With that said, CBD may be beneficial before games, during games, and after games. Many professional athletes put an intense load on their bodies during their games, and CBD helps them recover faster and feel better without the use of opiates and painkillers.¹⁰
When taken daily, CBD may help regulate our moods, sleep cycles, and body functions. It's believed that it is a natural bone stimulant and may help with pain and inflammation, making it an excellent choice for recovery after playing an intensely physical sport. While it doesn't cause a high, it is noticeably good at soothing away anxious feelings and improving our sense of focus. This helps athletes to avoid pre-game nerves and get in the zone during games.
While CBD doesn't make an athlete physically stronger or more rested, it may help make them feel more focused and confident in their element. It may also help them recover and get back to the game faster after an injury. It doesn't improve their performance physically, but it is a good choice both pre and post-game, as well as a daily supplement.
In the last few years, there has been a lot of discussion about CBD and other cannabinoids in pro sports for these reasons. With evidence to support that it isn't cheating to use them, athletes in sports leagues are all pushing to unban cannabinoids so they can use them for recovery and other benefits without fear of suspension or fines.
Using CBD before, during, and after a workout
Whether you're an athlete or not, if you lead a sporty lifestyle or are just trying to get the most out of your workout routine, CBD is an excellent choice for all stages of exercise. It won't alter your body or improve your stamina, agility, or endurance, but it may help you feel more relaxed and in tune with your body while you exercise. It may help with finding the motivation to get to the gym in the first place and may help you recover more efficiently after the fact.
CBD comes in all sorts of different products and delivery methods that can be used before, during, and after a workout. You can take a gel capsule, an edible, or smoke a CBD vape before working out and use CBD-infused balms, creams, and lotions after the fact for recovery.
CBD can help support a healthy and active lifestyle at the end of the day. Professional athletes in major sports are pining to partake, and many swear by it. As the ‘Made To Work, Made For All’ CBD brand, you can find CBD products to support your sporty lifestyle with Lazarus Naturals.