Thursday, July 18, 2024

Progress: World Doping Agency Will No Longer Ban CBD

There are people who spend their working days trying to keep competitive sports cleaner by monitoring athletes’ blood and urine for banned substances. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has softened its position on CBD. They made it official by removing it from their list prohibited substances for 2018.

CBD, cannabidiol, the compound found in both hemp and cannabis has been the golden favorite child of some states easing slowly into the medical marijuana experience because it is non-psychotropic. It cannot get you high.

WADA’s mission is to “lead a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport.” In this effort, they set the standards for over 600 international sports leagues from competitive tug of war to the Olympics. The organization leads scientific research, education and monitors the World Anti Doping Code – a document that attempts to unify anti-doping policies in all sports worldwide. 

In the new regulations the WADA added the warning that “cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from cannabis plants may contain varying concentrations of THC.” Despite the warning, the organization does not ban THC outright. In fact, in 2013 the WADA increased the allowable amount of THC to 150 nanograms/ml of blood. That is about 30 times the max amount a state like Washington allows for driving.

It is no surprise that competitive athletes would be interested in CBD. It has been shown to be effective at reducing pain, inflammation, nausea and even promoting heart health.

Some see this recent changing position on CBD as being provoked not by a physician or patient advocate but by a more unlikely hero. MMA star Nate Diaz sipped on a CBD pen during post fight interview after losing a 2016 match to Conor McGregor. He could not have been more open about his use and even asked a reporter’s question about what was in the vaping device: 

“It’s CBD, it helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that. So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”

The WADA had concluded its screening process by taking a post fight sample from Diaz, so he was confident his actions would not be a violation. It was a bold move, probably a well placed commercial for sponsorship opportunities that are bound to come his way. Diaz received nothing more than a slap on the wrist from the UFC. 

While the WADA announcement is a historic moment in its own right, CBD remains banned by all major US pro sports organizations.

This is part of the normalization process for cannabis. CBD is the easy buy in and gets a foot in the door for a bigger conversation about the medical applications for cannabis. In a year that has seen outspoken voices in the NFL like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones take a stand in favor of dropping the ban on marijuana use, times are changing. 


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