Back in May, the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced a partnership with Aurora Cannabis to study the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on its athletes. Plans of trials or procedures were scarce, but the general consensus from the partners involved how CBD can treat aches and pains suffered from a physical combat sport like UFC.
This week the partners offered more specifics as to what their initial studies will look like. The primary focus will involve the efficacy of topicals containing different CBD formulations and how they affect inflammation, pain, wounds, and other injuries. The goal is to eventually release an Aurora-produced and UFC-endorsed CBD topical derived from hemp. As of now there is no timetable for when that might reach store shelves.
“Collaborating with Aurora is the best way to educate ourselves and our fighters about the impact of CBD on MMA athletes and our sport,” Dr. Duncan French, UFC’s vice president of performance, said in a statement. “We want to apply science and see where it leads us. Ideally, these studies will give us the clarity we need to determine the effectiveness of hemp-derived CBD on athlete health and injury recovery.”
— JayOnSC (@JayOnSC) July 26, 2019
This study will be the biggest of its kind between active professional athletes and cannabis researchers. Other professional sports leagues have hinted at possible collaborations, but have not begun any known trials.
Earlier this year, the NFL and NFLPA announced a partnership to study marijuana as a pain management tool for players. Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted “it’s a complicated issue” for basketball athletes due to mental wellness concerns. The NHL Alumni Association, on the other hand, and Canopy Growth struck a similar deal to the Aurora-UFC partnership. Their research will narrow in on pain management, too, but also the long-term effects from traumatic brain injuries, and if cannabis might counteract some symptoms.
That said, the Aurora-UFC partnership and its intention to release a line of products from their research is straight “Pharma textbook,” Dr. Jeff Chen, director of UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative, told CNN. That textbook is simple: Design your own studies, with an outside company providing funding, to back up a market-ready product.
“It’s not uncommon to see this of companies [that] are just going for one study to have the marketing to back up a nutraceutical product,” Dr. Chen said.