CBD And Sports: Legality and Legitimacy

CBD And Sports: Legality And Legitimacy

Using CBD isn’t just something that’s appealing to regular civilians.

Even celebrities and professional athletes are jumping on the bandwagon.

Is CBD okay to use in sport?

Basketball’s BIG3 is the first pro sports league in the U.S. that allows its athletes to use CBD, or cannabidiol, which is derived from the cannabis sativa plant, in order to better control pain, as Forbes reports.

This has been a huge move that will surely pave the way for CBD to be more accepted in sport. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using CBD as a professional athlete. 

Benefits Of Using CBD For Sport

cbd oil and sport

You might know that CBD can make you feel calmer and help you sleep better, but it has many other uses that athletes can take advantage of in order to stay on top of their game. These include:

  • It lowers inflammation. CBD works in the body by interacting with receptors that regulate things like inflammation. The body has a natural endocannabinoid system that has receptors which control inflammation. When CBD engages with these receptors, it triggers the production of caspase, an anti-inflammatory protein. This protein kills off hyperactive immune cells, and can therefore decrease inflammation, as Thought Cloud explains.
  • It boosts appetite. Research has found that CBD can actually cause people to eat more, as Healthline reports. This can be useful in the case of athletes who need to increase their calorie intake in order to build muscle.
  • It reduces pain. When CBD is consumed, it prevents a chemical known as anandamide from being broken down. This ensures that it can stay in your body for longer, which relieves pain, as Healthline reports.
  • It prevents opioid addiction. One of the best reasons to take CBD is that it can help to relieve pain while removing the need for opioids, which can be abused and lead to addiction problems. What further makes athletes susceptible to opioid addiction is that they might need to have it prescribed to them many times to treat injuries and pain. CBD can’t lead to addiction and there are no withdrawal symptoms from it, which makes it much safer to consume.

Disadvantages Of Using CBD

athlete taking oral drops of cbd oil

Although using CBD products sounds like a win for professional sportsmen, there are some things to consider.

  • Sometimes CBD won’t work quickly. It tends to have a slower impact on the body than other conventional medications that work fast, which means if an athlete has experienced an injury and needs to get back out in the game, using CBD as a first line of treatment might not always be the best idea.
  • Taking oral CBD has poor bioavailability. Not only does this mean that the body can’t absorb it that well, but you might need to take higher doses of it to get the relief you need. This can be costly. In addition, some will insist that there’s simply not enough research that’s been done on humans to suggest that investing in CBD is worth it.
  • And then, of course, there’s also the issue of CBD and if it’s legal, which is a big obstacle for athletes.

The Laws Surrounding CBD And Sports

benefits of cbd oil in golf

Different sports have different rules when it comes to CBD usage.

Although CBD is taken from the cannabis sativa plant, it doesn’t contain any psychoactive ingredients, like THC, to make you high.

This should make it viewed as safe for use by athletes, or so one would think, but this is not always the case. Let’s take a look at how CBD is affecting various sports.

  • Golf: CBD is becoming much more accepted as time goes by, and many PGA Champions Tour players use CBD to relieve inflammation, anxiety, and other conditions, as Lexology reports. Rules in the PGA are that CBD is the same as other allowed supplements.
  • American football: The NFL isn’t clear about its stance on CBD but it disciplines any player who has more than 35ng/ml of Delta 9-THC-carboxylic acid that comes up in a drug test, as Boston reports.
  • Basketball: The NBA has banned marijuana and in its policies states that marijuana as well as its by-products are not allowed. Because CBD is taken from the marijuana plant, it’s banned by default.
  • Soccer: The MLS (Major League Soccer) follows the rule that any substance that’s banned by FIFA or the U.S Anti-Doping Agency will also be banned by the MLS league. Since CBD is banned by FIFA, this means that MLS bans these products too.

Interestingly, The World Anti-Doping Agency has removed CBD from its banned substances list, and this is huge considering that organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and International Federations all follow this agency’s guidelines.

However, as Lexicology reports, this doesn’t mean that all sports leagues accept CBD – many of the ones in North America still ban CBD.

Hopefully, that will change as people come to realize just how beneficial CBD can be for athletes.

Famous Athletes Who Use CBD

Legal issues aside, one can’t deny that CBD is growing in popularity, and some athletes are open about why they use it. Let’s take a look at what they have to say about it.

Chris Camozzi

Chris Camozzi

Mixed Martial Artist Chris Camozzi has been pretty open about how much he endorses CBD after it has helped him heal from injuries.

As Mike Swick reports, Chris has said, “I’ve got an injury list that makes Suge Knight’s rap sheet look short and I suffered another one of those injuries in my last camp ahead of my fight against Dan Kelly… I wanted to focus on recovering from my torn MCL so I tried the CBD oil.

I healed my knee faster than my docs had ever seen.” He added, “After everything I had heard about CBD, it wasn’t a shock and I was a believer.

CBD and blood flow restriction therapy healed me in ways I have never before experienced.”

Derrick Morgan

Derrick Morgan

NFL player Derrick Morgan is the second active player to advocate for more research into how cannabis can affect the brain, but he’s interested in CBD that doesn’t make one experience psychoactive effects.

After visiting Real of Caring and talking to parents of children who suffered from seizures that were cured by a product called Charlotte’s Web, which is a strain of cannabis that is high in cannabidiol and low in THC, Morgan said, “To see the way these people had their lives changed, and to know that there have been studies showing that cannabis might be a neuro-protetant… [How] can the league not want to look into that?”

Morgan has donated money into research to study the impact cannabis can have on NFL players, as For The Win reports.

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe

American soccer player and FIFA world champion Megan Rapinoe is a brand ambassador for Mendi CBD products and has been open about how CBD helps her.

“CBD is a natural alternative that has helped me stay at the top of my game for several years now, whether that be regulating my sleep, relaxing on long flights, helping with inflammation, or recovering after hard trainings and games,” she said in an interview with Green Entrepreneur.

“Bottom line, it’s natural, and I don’t want to be filling my body with chemicals. I eat clean and train hard, so I want my recovery process to be as natural as possible.”

Caleb Marshall

Caleb Marshall

This dancer, online fitness trainer, and coach says he uses CBD every day to decrease his anxiety.

As he told SVN Space Magazine, CBD has helped him to manage anxiety that was “completely out of control.”

He takes 15mg every morning and 30mg in the evening to decrease inflammation and anxiety, and, as the Baltimore Post Examiner reports, he has said that his anxiety is in a very different place than when he first started CBD so he will continue using it.

Related Questions

Can using CBD make you fail a drug test?

You shouldn’t fail a drug test because of CBD, unless it contains high levels of THC in it.

That’s why it’s so important to carefully source CBD products so that you’re 100 percent sure of their ingredients.

Is product labeling a problem for CBD products?


A study published by the American Medical Association found that some CBD products were not labeled correctly and that 21 percent of products that were tested showed the presence of THC.


With so many athletes using CBD to heal from injuries and keep their heads in the game, CBD is becoming a much more well-known substance.

However, the laws surrounding its use in sport is still a gray area.

In this article, we’ve looked at CBD and sport in greater detail, from the pros and cons of athletes using CBD to testimonials from athletes who swear by CBD as a natural and safe treatment to keep their careers going.

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