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CBD Regulations in Sports

CBD Regulations in Sports

 The life of an athlete involves a lot mental and physical stress. From long training sessions to big game days, being a professional athlete is an intense experience.  While there are many different over-the-counter and prescription medications available, not every athlete feels comfortable consuming something synthetic and artificial. As a result, more and more athletes are using CBD.

But is cannabidiol (CBD) a legal for athletes? That’s the question that we are going to answer here today.


Can Athletes Legally Use CBD?

 The rules and regulations surrounding CBD in sports vary. Some commissions categorize CBD as a drug, while others view CBD as a health supplement. When it comes to the legality of CBD use among athletes, policies differ from league to league and it can be confusing.

Let’s review how the professional American sports leagues view CBD, and then we will discuss the global landscape for CBD, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.


Professional American Leagues

Each sports league in the United States has its own stance on whether athletes are allowed to use CBD.



According to Major League Baseball, athletes are not allowed to use CBD. Despite the fact that CBD is not psychoactive, it is still a by-product of the cannabis plant, so the MLB views CBD as a drug.



The policy in the National Hockey League surrounding CBD use among athletes is undefined. While the NHL views CBD as a drug just like the MLB, the NHL operates under a preference rather than enforcing a no-CBD rule. Athletes in the NHL are encouraged not to use CBD but they are not punished for doing so either.



The National Football League does not have a specific anti-CBD rule, but they are stricter about THC. If football players are caught with THC in their system, then they are reprimanded and required to participate in a drug treatment program.



The NBA does not permit the use of cannabis among its athletes. CBD falls under that ban because the language includes marijuana but on all by-products of marijuana.

NBA players teams cannot consume CBD while under contract. The Women’s National Basketball Association follows suit and has a strict no-CBD rule as well.



Major League Soccer players must comply with the rules set forth by not only the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) as well. CBD is the only cannabinoid permitted by the WADA. However, FIFA does not have the same policy. FIFA has a strict ban on all cannabinoids, meaning that MLS players cannot consume CBD either, even though the WADA doesn’t prohibit CBD.


The World Anti-Doping Agency

The World Anti-Doping Agency WADA) is a Canada-based foundation that sets the rules and regulations surrounding substance use among athletes. The agency sets standards for what athletes are and are not allowed to ingest when competing, and regularly publishes a list of “prohibited substances” which is used as the standard reference by many professional and amateur competitions around the world.


Let’s take a look at the status of CBD according to the WADA:

As it currently stands, the World Anti-Doping Agency specifies that all cannabinoids are prohibited, whether they are naturally-occurring or synthetically made, except for CBD. This means that athletes are free to use CBD.

However, the CBD used by athletes must be pure cannabidiol without the addition of any other cannabinoids. In order to fully understand what this means, let’s take a closer look at what cannabinoids are.


What Are Cannabinoids?

A cannabinoid is one of the many naturally-occurring compounds in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids make up one category of cannabis-derived compounds, with other examples being flavonoids, omega fatty acids, and terpenes.

In the cannabis plant, there are more than one hundred and thirteen cannabinoids, but this number only includes the ones that have been identified. There are a plethora of cannabinoids yet to be named and officially classified.

You might be familiar with THC, which is another popular cannabinoid. Also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects that marijuana causes. In other words, THC is the compound that makes people high.

The main difference between marijuana plants and hemp plants is the percentage of THC present. Hemp plants contain less than 0.03% of THC, whereas the THC concentration of  marijuana plants is much higher.

Research has proven that cannabis containing less than 0.3% of THC cannot induce any psychoactive effects, meaning people cannot get high from cannabis with less than 0.3% THC overall.

As an athlete, the CBD product must contain no more than 0.3% THC. Simply containing CBD is not enough, so it is important that athletes only consume CBD oils, tinctures, or products explicitly marketed as CBD products. Otherwise, athletes run the risk of ingesting other cannabinoids in the process.


The Benefits of CBD for Athletes

Before we dive into the benefits of CBD for athletes, please be aware that CBD is not intended as a cure for any health concerns. It should be viewed as a substance that can supplement your overall wellbeing, not as a medicinal remedy for health-related issues. Always discuss CBD with your healthcare providers before incorporating CBD into your everyday routine.

At Nacai Athletics, we are all about the health and safety of athletes. To read more about CBD and sports, check out our blog.

Feel free to reach out to Nacai Athletics with any questions you may have as well. We look forward to hearing from you!

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