Nearly 40% of professional athletes have reported struggling with mental health issues. Athletes are constantly under pressure, which can cause significant stress or anxiety. They also experience frequent injuries that make it difficult to perform at their best.
But a growing number of professional athletes are finding some relief from these stressors: CBD. Though little researched, CBD is commonly known to relieve pain and anxiety—all effects ideal for athletes. The cannabis compound is reportedly helping many who use it to sleep, focus, and recover.
Though slow on the uptake, professional sports organizations are not turning a blind eye to this new phenomenon. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced in 2018 that CBD use in pro sports was no longer banned (though all other cannabis products remain banned.) Since then, several pro sports leagues have started allowing the use of CBD, and more seem to be addressing the issue every year.
But what pro sports allow CBD right now?
With the Superbowl and Winter Olympics fast approaching, we thought now would be a good time to answer this question. So, we did a little digging. Here are 3 major sports organizations that allow the use of CBD at this time.
1. The National Football League (NFL)
The NFL has had a tricky relationship with cannabis products. Even after the change in WADA policies in 2018, they still did not allow players to use cannabis.
But this changed in 2020 when they changed their drug testing policies. Athletes would only be penalized for testing positive if their test showed excessive amounts of THC.
CBD generally has, if any, a very low THC content. So, for the most part, this means that NFL players can now safely use CBD products without penalties.
2. Major League Baseball (MLB)
The MLB was one of the first pro sports organizations to remove cannabis products from their list of banned substances. Since then, they have added opioids to the list.
This change became effective during the 2020 season.
3. The International Olympic Committee (IOC)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been more progressive than most athletic organizations when it comes to cannabis policies. Just a few years ago, they increased the amount of THC that would yield a positive drug test result.
In 2017, they also removed CBD from their banned substances list. The Tokyo Olympics was the first in which all athletes were allowed to use CBD without consequence.
The Future of CBD in Sports
Although pro sports organizations have made great advances in cannabis policies, there are still rules and limitations in place. They all have the purpose of protecting the health and safety of all athletes.
In the NFL, athletes would only receive penalties if a drug test showed excessive amounts of THC. Each player receives a drug test during the first two weeks of training.
If they test positive, a board of medical professionals decides if the player needs extra support or a treatment plan.
For the MLB, players cannot show up to games or practices high. They also cannot take part in sponsorships with cannabis companies or products.
The regulations of the IOC state that for CBD use, the THC content needs to be less than 0.3%. So most Olympians who use cannabidiol are turning to athlete-friendly CBD, which is essentially CBD with no THC in it.
These organizations are some of the most well-known pioneers of CBD use in sports. As they figure out what regulations work for them, and as cannabis policies become more relaxed across the US and other countries, it’s safe to expect more pro sports organizations will relax their policies as well.