CBD and the NFL: CBD’s Impact on Football
Written by Jason Brett
Edited by Cathy Rozyczko on
January 5, 2022
With the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018, CBD became effectively legal in the United States. This ground-breaking legislation differentiated industrial hemp, making it legal to cultivate and sell hemp and hemp-based products (such as CBD).
As long as they do not contain more than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive component in cannabis that produces the “high” sensation), CBD products are considered legal nutritional supplements. .
With the use of CBD becoming more widespread, many have begun to discover the benefits that CBD can provide to athletes who play high-impact sports.
In particular, we’ve read about professional athletes who claim that CBD helps to reduce pain and alleviate performance anxiety.
Various athletes including professional hockey players, UFC champions, Olympic gymnasts, and even NFL players have touted the benefits of CBD.
Many professional athletes have even started to campaign for the use of CBD and other cannabinoids in professional sports.
Yet, football fans may find themselves wondering whether professional football players are allowed to use CBD. After all, the NFL is known for having one of the strictest substance abuse policies of any professional sports association in the country.
If you have aspirations of playing professional football and you currently use CBD, or you’re an avid fan worried that your favorite player could be suspended for using CBD, here is an overview of what you need to know about CBD and the NFL.
The NFL's Stance on CBD
For those wondering if the use of CBD among football players is permitted, the answer is complicated.
While the NFL does test for marijuana as part of its regular drug testing program, it does not specifically look for the presence of CBD. These tests only look for the presence of THC in a player's body.
However, this does not mean that the NFL endorses the use of CBD.
In fact, in January 2020, the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) held a joint forum to discuss the use of CBD to treat pain management. While studies have shown that CBD can provide natural pain relief and that CBD products have the potential to put an end to the opioid epidemic, the NFL claims that there is still not enough evidence of its effectiveness for them to endorse the use of CBD.
Fortunately, the NFL has indicated that they are willing to re-address this issue, should more evidence of CBD's effectiveness be brought to light. Furthermore, since the NFL does not test for CBD, players who use a CBD isolate product (which does not contain any THC or other cannabinoids) should not have to worry about getting in trouble with the league.
Recent NFL Cannabis Policy Changes
In a positive turn of events for football players advocating the benefits that medical cannabis can provide, the NFL recently had a change of policy in regard to their treatment of cannabis use.
As of March 2020:
While the NFL still does not endorse the use of marijuana or CBD, and THC will continue to be a part of their drug testing program, players will no longer be suspended for marijuana use.
Prior to the NFL's latest decision, a positive drug test for THC could see players enrolled in a substance abuse program, with subsequent positive tests resulting in a player suspension for up to 10 games. Continued failed THC drug tests could even result in a player being expelled from the league.
Under the NFL's new rules that were voted on in March 2020, players will no longer face suspension, or be expelled from the league after testing positive for cannabis.
This marks a drastic change of position. The new rules also raise the threshold of a positive test from 35 nanograms to 150 nanograms of THC, and the testing window will be limited to the first two weeks of training camp.
What NFL Players Are Saying About CBD
The NFL's latest policy changes have been welcomed by many current and former players who have been using cannabis and CBD products medicinally in order to help them cope with pain and anxiety resulting from their profession.
However, many industry activists claim that the latest changes are not enough, as they want to see more acceptance of the use of cannabis in the NFL.
For years, former and current NFL players have advocated for the use of CBD and cannabis as a way to treat chronic pain.
Due to the high-impact nature of football, it is not uncommon for players to sustain severe injuries that result in chronic pain. This can lead to the end of a career or dependence on potentially dangerous opioid painkillers. Many football players then see CBD as a lifeline that can help keep them in the game and off addictive medications.
In fact, recent years have seen several major players in the NFL come out in support of the use of CBD.
One of the most notable NFL players to praise the benefits of CBD is Super Bowl-winning tight end Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski. Gronkowski claims that he has been using CBD since March 2019, and that using CBD has allowed him to be pain-free for the first time in many years.
Gronkowski is so passionate about his belief in the relief CBD can provide, he invested in and partners with Abacus Health, selling a line of fitness-oriented CBD recovery products under the brand-name CBDMEDIC.
Other NFL athletes have also begun to invest in CBD including Joe Montana, Calvin Johnson, Ricky Williams, and Tiki Barber.
The Bright Future of CBD in the NFL
CBD is breaking grounds in the NFL as players continue to advocate for the ways in which it can provide natural pain relief. Not having to rely as much (if at all) on opioid painkillers to deal with chronic pain is a win in and of itself. This along with the benefits of CBD for anxiety and recovery make it an easy, natural choice for professional athletes and active adults everywhere.
Supporting the body’s endocannabinoid system through CBD supplementation is a great way to supercharge resilience and combat health issues with a natural solution.
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