There isn’t a strong connection between cannabis and sports associations despite numerous athletes using cannabis. The highest ranked athletes from every corner of the world have been always using cannabis as a means for better concentration, relaxation and recovering after facing sports injuries. They prefer cannabis to traditional medicines which are easy to acquire because it is believed to be better and safer to use. Nonetheless, the greatest concern regarding cannabis is that it is not allowed to be used by numerous sports leagues and anti-doping associations.
Recently, there were negative comments about professional athletes who publicly spoke about using cannabis. Cannabis consumption created many issues and problems for professional athletes: most of them were regarded as worthy of disgrace and great disapproval, numerous careers were destroyed, and others were severely reprimanded, such as Michael Phelps about his scandalous “bong photo”. Furthermore, some athletes’ participation in competitions was even officially forbidden after they have admitted to use or were caught using cannabis.
It is fortunate that things have drastically changed since the event with Phelps in 2009. Legislation, procedures, and the approach towards cannabis are continually altering and the number of athletes who publicly speak about using cannabis as a part of their practice routine and programs for recovering is gradually increasing as well.
Cannabis is usually connected with cravings rather than with exhausting physical activities. Day after day, the research in this field is broadening. Thanks to tests done in realistic situations, cannabis use is believed to be beneficial for boosting the performance of the athletes and speeding up their recovery.
Cannabis consumption has been regarded as something disgraceful. But thanks to some athletes and medical practitioners who are fearless to discuss the issue, these attitudes are changing.
The List of Prohibited Substances and Cannabis
A substance is enlisted in the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (which the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) publishes once a year) if it fulfills two of these three criteria: (1) if there is a possibility to boost or if it actually boosts athletes’ performance; (2) if there is a possibility to be harmful or if it is actually harmful for a person’s health; and (3) if it is contrary to the sport’s spirit. WADA has included cannabis in the List since 2004. Even though there is not a strong proof that cannabis enhances physical performance, according to WADA, it has been confirmed that there are some hazardous effects on people’s health, and it is also a substance which is against the spirit of sport.
Cannabis is not allowed to be used during competitions only. Due to the fact that numerous athletes have been punished even though they never used cannabis during competition, but they used it recreationally out of it, the allowed level of cannabis metabolite carboxy-THC changed. Instead of 15ng/mL, it was increased to 150ng/mL. CBD has not been on the List since 2018, because it is not a cannabimimetic or a psychotropic substance.
If an athlete needs to use a substance which is on the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods, they can apply for TUE - Therapeutic Use Exemption. Some of the reasons for the TUE Committee to approve of this are: if this substance is crucial for the athlete’s health; if the substance would not boost the athlete’s performance; and if there is no other suitable alternative for the substance. Each case individually differs from the others and that is why TUEC reviews all the applications separately.
Why Top Athletes Turn To Cannabis?
According to the results of the studies carried out about cannabinoid medicines, there are a lot of compounds in cannabis which are directly involved with the endocannabinoid system. The ECS is an extensive and complicated system which keeps the homeostasis in the human body and brain. Cannabis has an effect over people’s response to inflammation and body injuries. This potential advantage is usually the main reason why athletes decide to use cannabis.
Pain Can Be Effectively And Safely Managed By Cannabis.
Since the United States of America are facing issues with opioids, more and more people (a great percentage of whom are athletes) are deciding to use cannabis for pain management, because it is a healthy option. Cannabis is the perfect substance for eliminating all pain and aches that happen as a result of extensive training. CBD eliminates pain without making a person high.
Cannabis Is Not Harmful for The Lungs. It Is Actually Beneficial.
According to the results of a long-term study carried out in a period of twenty years, the lung capacity of low and moderate consumers of cannabis was significantly better than people who never smoked. If the lung capacity of an athlete is improved, that means that their performance will become better and the process of regaining strength after an exhausting training will be much easier and faster. Furthermore, THC has anti-inflammatory characteristics and it is beneficial for the immune system. That means that a lung irritation cannot turn into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which can be disastrous and it usually happens with cigarette smokers. Athletes choose from a great variety of available options, but those who choose to use cannabis should know that it won’t have any negative effects on their performance.
Cannabis Is Beneficial For Recovery And Performance.
Topicals and salves which contain cannabis soothe muscle pain. THC and CBD have anti-inflammatory effects and due to that, muscles can repair very fast and the time for recovery is significantly shortened. All of that contributed to improved athletic performance.
Cannabis Improves Athletes’ Concentration During Intense Training Sessions.
Those athletes who have started consuming cannabis as a part of their training and fitness program point out that their level of pain tolerance has significantly raised and their concentration is considerately improved. All of that enables them to endure the pain that accompanies workout and sessions which are challenging and require an enormous amount of energy and strength. In order to be able to completely fulfill those workouts and training, athletes need to be strong both physically and mentally. THC and CBD give them that strength by relieving them from anxiety and pain.
Neuroprotection Is Promoted By Cannabis.
There have been numerous NFL players who openly admitted that due to head injuries that occurred during doing sports they have felt symptoms similar to PTSD. Cannabis is considered to be the best remedy for athletes who have head injuries, because it has the power to renew the brain.
According to the FDA, all of that is not enough
There has been a debate regarding the legalization of cannabis for a long time, but nothing has been discussed about the physical effects of cannabis on athletes, yet. There is a group of people who claim that cannabis has the ability to boost athletes’ performance indirectly since it improves their concentration and helps them with the pain. Since the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency, cannabis as a prohibited substance in sport has been the most argumentative question. There have been numerous discussions regarding this question led by both political and scientific anti-doping authorities.
There is slightly unreliable proof about an existence of biological basis for the positive effects of marijuana, but in order this substance to be labeled as a real medicine, a lot of strictly controlled trials should be conducted by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration). People who support legalization believe that the bureaucracy is slowing the process.
On the FDA’s website it is said that they do not allow drugs that involve botanical marijuana or that come from it. According to them, they still haven’t found that such products are good and beneficial for treating different illnesses and conditions.
Marijuana’s potency has risen recently and as a result the existing specific risks for users become more severe. According to research related to cannabis usage, people who use more than 100mg of cannabis and chronic users face the following negative effects: the lung capacity becomes restricted; short-term memory can be damaged and alertness lowered; and the possibility of heart-attack is increased, especially for users who have already had some heart conditions. Ben Green, a fitness trainer, holistic nutritionist, Ironman triathlete, and the author of Beyond Training (the best-selling biohack guide), advises athletes to take these risks very seriously.
Fine motor skills are needed for sports like golf and tennis and Green emphasizes that in this cases marijuana can have a damaging effect. It is also believed that it can harm the heart. According to the findings of a study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, using marijuana can be the reason for TVRB (transient ventricular regional ballooning). This condition of the heart is similar to cardio myopathy which has the ability to make the heart muscle weak and simulate similar symptoms to those of a heart attack.
Vaping weed is far better for athletes’ health than smoking weed. These days, people can easily find a great palette of vaping products, devices, and dry herb at online shops from vaping and from different sellers, due to the fact that the number of states that legalize marijuana is gradually increasing. According to vape4ever, an online vape shop, the proportion of athletes in their customers has increased significantly in recent years.
The Bottom Line
There are countless of advantages offered by cannabis usage, such as: speed recovery and enhanced performance, and protection of the brain and a possibility for its renewal. That is more than enough for athletes who are looking to have an advantage at competitions, and for people who want something that will help them to endure workouts.