Cannabinoids are natural phytochemicals found in cannabis plants. The best-known of these substances are THC and CBD, but marijuana and hemp plants have dozens of cannabinoids.
As the stigma surrounding cannabis decreases, diverse Americans are incorporating cannabinoids into their lives. That includes not just average consumers but also celebrities and even pro sports players. While some leagues still ban the use of THC as a performance-enhancing drug, others have embraced it. Many athletes can now Buy THC oil to help them heal from injuries or boost performance.
If you want to find out how these changes impact the sports world, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn about the diverse impacts of cannabinoids on pro sports.
The Ongoing Debate About Medical Marijuana
In the past, people assumed that marijuana was nothing more than a recreational drug. Today, ongoing research continues to demonstrate the therapeutic value of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Despite growing acceptance, there is still a good deal of debate surrounding the amount of marijuana as a therapeutic agent. This debate is especially relevant in the world of professional sports.
Some sports leagues have outright removed marijuana from their lists of banned substances. The National Hockey League (NHL) is pushing the envelope when it comes to normalizing marijuana. The league no longer punishes players for using marijuana either on their own time or before games.
Other leagues take a much more traditional stance on medical marijuana use. The National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) still test THC players and punish those who test positive. That could change soon with many athletes advocating for marijuana legalization on sports news and pop culture outlets.
Why Change Might Be a Good Thing
So why do athletes use cannabinoids? Pro sports players could benefit more than most from changing attitudes about medical marijuana. As research continues, it’s becoming clear that the therapeutic properties of marijuana are just as powerful as its psychoactive effects.
The cannabinoids found in cannabis plants can help with:
- Pain management
- Muscle recovery
- Performance anxiety
- Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma
- Focus during long or monotonous workouts
- Low mood
- Withdrawing from pharmaceutical painkillers
- And many other problems
CBD: The Other Famous Cannabinoid
Currently, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) still considers THC a banned substance. CBD is a different story entirely. When the US legalized hemp-based CBD products on a federal level, WADA took notice. It removed CBD from its banned substances list. Now, athletes in any league can use a CBD cartridge or take capsules if they want to use this therapeutic cannabinoid.
Hemp-Based vs. Marijuana-Based CBD
There is one caveat. Since THC is still considered a banned substance, most professional athletes can only use hemp-based CBD products. Under federal law, hemp-based products can contain no more than 0.3% THC. Even that can be enough to turn up a false positive result on sensitive drug tests. Pro sports players often have to settle for less-effective CBD products like isolates or broad-spectrum products.
Unfortunately, research shows that CBD works best when taken in concert with all the other cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis plants. That includes THC. CBD isolates and broad-spectrum products can still provide some relief from pain, inflammation, and other ailments. However, they’ll never be as effective as marijuana-based CBD or even full-spectrum hemp-based products.
Help for Recovering Athletes
One of the most significant impacts of cannabinoids on pro sports is their ability to help athletes recover from sports-related injuries. Both THC and CBD have proven analgesic effects. Some athletes have used medical marijuana to promote recovery after serious injuries. Others have used it to help them with opioid withdrawal symptoms following traditional pain management treatments. Either way, the cannabinoids found in marijuana are a safer alternative to prescription drugs.
Cannabinoids and Aspiring Athletes
Are you an aspiring athlete? As long as you aren’t playing for the pro leagues, you should have no problem using cannabinoids to enhance your workouts and recovery. If you live in a state with legal recreational or medical marijuana, try marijuana-based products. Otherwise, stick with hemp-based alternatives.
Even with cannabinoids performance-enhancing benefits, some amateur athletes are still hesitant to try them. Keep in mind that unpleasant side effects like dizziness, nausea, and sleepiness are common with THC.
The best way to avoid these unpleasant side effects is to stick with low doses. Using only as much as you need will also help to keep your tolerance low.
Why Are Cannabinoids Banned in Sport?
WADA considers three criteria when deciding whether to ban a substance. The substance must:
- Pose a health risk
- Enhance performance or
- Violate the spirit of professional sports
According to WADA, marijuana meets those criteria, so cannabinoids are banned in sports and games.
The Future of Cannabinoids in Sports
As acceptance of cannabis rises among the general public, sports leagues are changing their tune about cannabinoids. Research continues to show that they can be helpful for injured athletes. Hopefully, other leagues will follow the NHL’s lead and allow players to use these beneficial substances in the future.