Mainstream Sports is Finally Embracing CBD

As cannabis becomes less of a taboo, more mainstream sports are starting to embrace cannabis as a health supplement and medicine. Many professional athletes already endorse CBD and other cannabis products as alternatives to opioid painkillers, which have been proven to be addictive and detrimental to long-term performance and well-being.

Let’s take a look at what’s leading mainstream sports to finally start accepting CBD and cannabis in general.

Loosening Restrictions on Cannabis and CBD

Much of this hype about cannabis is due to cannabidiol (CBD), one of the plant's many cannabinoids that has been found to have many beneficial properties. Particularly for athletes, CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that make it healthier and more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and many others, which have been found to inflict damage to the liver and kidneys with long-term use.

Pure CBD also doesn't have the psychoactive properties of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound most popularly associated with cannabis. It's the reason why it got prohibited in the first place, and it's also why there are still some who are reluctant about hopping on the CBD bandwagon, especially when it comes to professional sports.

While these studies on CBD have been going on for decades now, CBD products were only made available in recent years. You can say it's better to be late than never, and it does look like "never" will never ever be again as the popularity of CBD has skyrocketed in the last few years. The market demand has been established, and it's not going away anytime soon with widening legalization.

But it's not just the big sports leagues becoming more tolerant to cannabis. According to a 2020 Gallup survey, over 68% of Americans now support legalization of cannabis, which is way up from 31% in 2000. It may have taken 18 years to turn things around, but it's indeed better late than never.

CBD Use Among Athletes

Athletes all around the world have taken a liking to cannabis due to its ability to relieve pain, inflammation, and anxiety. Despite that, most countries around the world still keep it illegal, but that's starting to change as mainstream support for its legalization has since picked up steam and more countries are now voting to make it legal at various capacities.

In the United States, the floodgates had been opened with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. As the stigma attached to the cannabis plant for many decades has been slowly but surely wearing off, thus opening the door to cannabis becoming a mainstream product for both medical and recreational use.

While cannabis still remains as a Schedule I prohibited drug, according to US Federal Law, more and more states have been legalizing it within their borders. This is especially important for athletes as they need a viable alternative over opioid painkillers, which more and more athletes are turning away from due to potential addiction, side effects, and overdose death.

The opioid crisis that has been going on throughout the country continues to vilify the drugs collectively known as opioids, which are derived from the opium poppy plant. Opioids have been found to be both incredibly addictive and riddled with side effects. This is what a lot of people wish to solve with CBD.

More and more studies are coming out with the purported benefits of CBD being proven in clinical trials, and all of that is also backed up by a growing stock of anecdotal evidence from people who use it for relieving pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

These problems just so happen to be common among athletes, and CBD is now becoming more and more of a supplement that's as important as whey protein, creatine, and fish oil.

How Mainstream Sports is Addressing CBD

While most sports organizations still keep cannabis in their list of banned substances and enact harsh penalties to violators, some of them are being compelled to take a second look as more and more of their athletes can't seem to stay away from it.

While the backwards public perception on those instances is that of moral failing, the true reason is for healing and recovery, using CBD to relieve pain and inflammation to keep up with their training and prolong their careers.

They use CBD not because they don't care about their careers, but because they do care. They care enough that they would risk looking bad upon being caught because the effectiveness of CBD is worth the risk. When you really start thinking about it, there’s no wonder why minds are being made to change nowadays.

Starting January 1, 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from their list of prohibited substances. In June 2018, the BIG3 League became the first professional athletic league to openly embrace cannabis.

The big professional sports leagues have taken notice of this and are starting to soften their views on CBD and cannabis. Even if their executives personally take a hardline stance on cannabis, they’ve since lost the ability to be stubborn about the drug as more and more of their players keep testing positive cannabis use, even after repeated penalties.

If they suspend their best players too much, that actually starts showing up as red on their profit margins. After all, fans are less likely to attend games if their favorite athletes are not playing. The National Hockey League no longer suspends players who test positive for cannabinoids, Major League Baseball only fines them, and the National Basketball Association and National Football League will only suspend them after multiple violations.

There’s now even a move to look more into CBD as an integral part of their careers. The NFS Pain Management Committee and the NFL Players Association have provided $1 million in funding for research into pain management with cannabinoids. This is the next step in the NFL's shift on players using cannabis, some of whom have long maintained that it was safer for them in treating pain compared to taking prescription medication.

For many years, the NFL suspended players who tested positive for cannabis multiple times. That then changed with the collective bargaining agreement that was approved last year. The league now wants to know how much safer cannabis and CBD are in treating pain compared to opioids, which have created a societal crisis due to their addictive properties.


Things have not instantly become peachy keen for CBD in sports, but things are indeed getting better. As more parts of the world start to embrace what had been a good thing all along, we’ll see more growth in an expanding CBD market with increasing demand.

With professional athletes endorsing CBD products and professional sports leagues becoming more accepting of CBD and cannabis in general, it gives the rest of the world hope in proliferating CBD for the benefit of all.

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