Publish Date: 02/01/2019
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis
The United States decision to legalize the industrial growth of hemp in late 2018 was a reason to celebrate for many Americans. Some farmers will be happy to diversify their crops, and CBD advocates see it as a step to legalize CBD for medical purposes on a federal level. America is still lagging behind on CBD legalization, but the new policy on hemp has opened a discussion on legalizing other hemp products.
The NFL has a particularly strict drug policy, but many former players have insisted that CBD oils and other cannabis products have helped their health. Former NFL player Larry Chester said CBD saved his life, and he has become an advocate for their expanded use in sport.
Currently, the NFL is having problems with player health, and former players have been dogged with health problems for years. Former players health struggles are well documented, and it extends beyond the current uproar surrounding concussions.
Chester has used CBD products to replace his reliance on addictive opioid prescriptions to combat his chronic pain. Many advocates for athlete health believe that CBD products can work against the chronic pain that many current and former athletes suffer from. If you want more information on how CBD can help with chronic pain, click here.
Former athletes have more freedom in picking their health and recovery regimen, but many current athletes are bound to agreements with their league. The NFL and NBA have quite strict policies on cannabis products, but some sports leagues are leading the way when it comes to CBD. Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league became the first professional sports league to allow their athletes to use CBD. The 3-on-3 basketball league is relatively new, and it has made some waves in the sports community. But, advocates are still pressing America’s biggest sports league to make a change in regards to their cannabis policies.
The major league with the most cannabis leniency is the National Hockey League. Similar to football, hockey is a physically demanding sport with bone-crushing hits, and its players suffer from chronic pain issues similar to football players. Cannabis is not on the NHL’s banned substance list, but a player’s test results will get passed on to the NHL front office if they test positive. While the policy does not fully condone cannabis use, it is much less punitive than the NFL or NBA’s drug policies.
Beyond chronic pain, CBD advocates also cite that CBD products can help with seizures. In the case of the NFL, a potential alleviation of these issues coincides with the interests of former players who might have suffered from traumatic brain injuries. This use of CBD products applies more to former players than current players.
However, the NFL and other major sports leagues still have a responsibility to their former players’ health, and there have been increased demands for the leagues to protect their former players. Through insurance policies and educational programs for current and former players, there are multiple important ways in which sports leagues set the medical possibilities for players. And many NFL players’ reliance on opioids is reaching a critical mass.
It will likely take legalization of CBD and more research and testing before any sports league promotes the use of CBD or other cannabis products to help alleviate players’ health issues. More prominent former players will likely also shift the conversation in favor of protecting player health through cannabis.
In the meantime, it may well be a slow road for cannabis acceptance in sports. But for advocates, there is reason to be positive. The NHL and BIG3’s policy points to a more lenient future that emphasizes player health over punitive punishment. It is likely a story of ‘when’ not ‘if’ CBD will be accepted in major sports leagues.