How CBD is Changing Sports Medicine Law

By now, we’ve heard of the many healing abilities of hemp and cannabis products and the almost endless list of ailments that can be treated by CBD. Yet, as Americans, we are shocked when we find out that a professional athlete has failed a drug test for using THC or CBD. If there were ever an occupation that made you predisposed to dealing with chronic pain and inflammation in the body, professional sports is certainly that. It’s important for athletes to be able to heal their bodies in healthy and natural ways.

Although CBD has been removed from the banned substance lists as of 2018, it was not always this way. There have been many cases of failed drug tests by professional athletes over the decades, but failed tests really began making national headlines after the early 2000s. While there may have been athletes using THC recreationally, there were many notable names who suffered negative consequences for using THC for its medical benefits despite it being illegal at the time. One of the biggest names, Ricky Williams, failed multiple drug tests over his football career for using cannabis as a replacement to traditional pain-management options. To avoid public humiliation for failing to comply with the NFL’s substance policies, he decided to retire from football. Although cannabis was and is still illegal in most of the United States, both recreationally and medically, many athletes search for healthier alternatives to the traditional pain-management and healing medicines that were and are regulated by sporting associations. While THC remains illegal throughout most of the country and is banned by all sporting associations, due largely in part to the psychoactive side effects, CBD is absent of these properties and should, and now thankfully is, viewed widely as a healing agent.

Following intense physical training or activities, muscles often become inflamed and result in soreness for days to come. While that soreness is a sign of effectiveness, it can be very uncomfortable and also signals the need to take care of the body and the muscles. The preferred and regulated method for dealing with these aches and pains is to take a NSAID or anti-inflammatory drug. However, these drugs are extremely dangerous, especially if used regularly. “If deaths from the toxic effects of NSAID drugs were tabulated separately, these drug toxicities would constitute the 15th most common cause of death in the United States.” The professional football community has been one of the first to push back against the regulation of substances allowed and prescribed by teams and allowed by the World Anti-Doping Agency. In fact, 52% of players report using opioids at least once during their career. Even more shockingly, a lawsuit was filed in March of 2017 with complaints from nearly 1,800 players claiming team doctors prescribed narcotics and painkillers recklessly. While these issues have only begun to surface through the NFL, it holds true through many different sports as alternative treatment options are just not legal.

The Nate Diaz Effect

As many athletes have begun to take a stand against prescription painkillers in search of a healthier alternative, one athlete took matters into his own hands and changed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s policies altogether. The WADA regulates what professional athletes are allowed to consume and put in their bodies. Any substance that is banned within a sport is banned at the WADA’s discretion. Not only was CBD banned by WADA, but also by it’s national equivalent, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). These policies changed when one MMA fighter named Nate Diaz surprised reporters and arrived at his post-fight press conference with a vape pen, which he used after his August 20, 2016 loss to Conor McGregor. Diaz explained to the media, with no shame, the contents of his vape and continued to tout CBD’s benefits. While action was taken against Diaz for non-compliance to the rules of the industry, WADA soon announced that “cannabidiol is no longer prohibited.” Since WADA was founded by the International Olympic Committee, regional agencies like USADA quickly followed suit and began making changes to the policies against cannabidiol. As of 2018, CBD will no longer be on the banned substance within the sporting communities.

Why Athletes Use CBD Oil For Better Health

As a society, we view athletes almost as superbeings that compete and train at a high level for our entertainment, yet we fail to recognize how hard sports and competition are on the bodies of the competitors, often leaving them injured and aching. Science has shown that CBD can reduce inflammation and ease chronic pain with limited to no side effects. It doesn’t alter the state of mind, and can leave athletes clear headed while healing their body in a safer and more natural way than other drugs.

While this matter may seem small, it’s important to note that the change in policy may be a sign of a greater shift. Athletes are looked up to as the pinnacle of human prowess and we often model our behavior after them. While decorated and outstanding Olympians, such as Michael Phelps, have fallen victim to the negative stigma of more natural healing, the athletic community can set a precedent for the wider world by being advocates for change in their own industries.

With athletes and non-athletes alike, CBD can be beneficial for anybody who lives an active lifestyle. It is great for your immune system, can help control appetite and weight, helps protect the brain from head injuries, increases recovery time, eases game day anxiety, and helps with inflammation and pain. The benefits of CBD are amazing, and it’s great to see that a shift has begun for athletes who want to heal their bodies in natural way without opioids, and anybody who wants to lead a healthier lifestyle.

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