Professional athletes are turning to cannabis products to help them manage pain, but leagues such as the NFL are not yet ready to go.
Last week, the league said it wanted to see more studies on how cannabis affects fitness. At this time, there is no scientific evidence that the products work or that they are safe, NFL officials have said. Plus, elite pros aren’t your average athlete – a lot of money is at stake and the NFL wants to know exactly how cannabis will affect their performance.
Kevin Hill, a doctor who co-chairs a pain management committee for the NFL and his players’ association, cautioned: “There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest it’s a bit more. risky than people think. Hill said.
He raised concerns about the purity and potency of cannabis products, as well as potential interactions with other drugs that players take. There are also concerns that the large doses of cannabis products needed to treat pain could damage the liver.
While the World Anti-Doping Agency now allows CBD (but not THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), the NCAA still largely bans all “cannabinoids.” He says marijuana can impair performance, citing the potential for memory impairment, decreased judgment and reduced coordination.
This doesn’t stop the products from gaining in appeal, and companies are already marketing them as a new form of sports medicine. Canopy Growth Corp., for example, has a controlling stake in BioSteel, which makes CBD products for sports recovery, some of which contain electrolytes for hydration.
“We know that CBD and cannabinoids can contribute to overall well-being, and it is very encouraging to see the dialogue about the sports use of these products emerging,” Michael Cammalleri, co-founder of BioSteel, told me in an email.
A number of athletes, like former NFL player Brett Favre, have endorsed cannabis products.
âWe are seeing increased awareness and acceptance of CBD products to aid recovery and performance in all athletic categories,â said Erick Dickens, CEO of Kadenwood, in an email.
The company, which markets the Level Select line of CBD products to athletes, said online sales since the start of the year have increased 74%. He recently launched a new ad campaign featuring PGA golfer Rickie Fowler, Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Carson Palmer and former MLB star Steve Garvey.
The percentage of people who use cannabis-related products for athletics is still quite low, at around 8% of current annual users, according to cannabis statistics tracker New Frontier Data. But it will definitely increase if the NFL concludes that it’s good enough for elite athletes.