Cannabis + Sports = Healthier Athletes

Published on April 9, 2021 by Dean Millard

Embracing CBD and THC in professional sports could give athletes a healthier outlook on life, writes Dean Millard. 

It was a punishing game for Gus Milldeyko. He dished out crushing checks—received his share—fought once and set up the game-tying goal in a comeback win. He also blocked a few shots, one that left a puck sized welt on his arm that was already turning black and blue during his post-game interview.

Boarding the team plane, he bypasses the beer and hard liquor and instead grabs a CBD drink and a THC infused muffin loaded with terpenes myrcene, caryophyllene and linalool. The five-hour flight is a mixture of laughs, relaxation and a deep sleep as his body recovers from the beating it took and allows him to be ready two nights later. The above story isn’t true, yet. But it could be a peek into the future of athletes.

While today’s players are much healthier than even the turn of the millennium, alcohol still flows freely. As do prescription pain pills. 

History is littered with athletes who became addicted to alcohol, pills or both in some of the worst cases where it took their lives. Others get left behind when the game ends and are forced to fend for themselves to feed the addiction their sports ‘pain remedy system’ created.

Giving athletes the options to consume THC for post-game pain relief is much more effective than beer, vodka or any number of pain pills from ibuprofen to oxycodone, and a whole lot healthier.

Where pro-sports leagues stand on cannabis

The NBA stopped testing for recreational drugs during their Disney World bubble. The league continued that policy when the season tipped off in December. 

The NHL still tests its players for marijuana, but action is only taken if there is an unusually high amount of THC. Even then the player isn’t punished, but rather given advice and a treatment plan if warranted. 

The NFL has a tiered system in place ranging from a referral to a substance abuse program for a first offence to a one-year ban for a sixth positive test. 

Major League Baseball only tests players for recreational drugs if they have ‘reasonable cause’ and the punishment is usually a fine, unless the player is clearly violating the rules. 

World Anti-Doping Agency is OK with CBD

The research continues on CBD and muscle recovery, but the world is taking notice. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has taken CBD off of its banned substance list as well as raised the amount of THC an athlete can have in their system to prevent a competitor from testing positive due to casual use. This alone shows the ‘wheel of cannabis’ is turning around the world. 

Could we soon see athletes like Connor McDavid or Ezekiel Elliott promoting CBD drinks? Both represent Biosteel—the top brand in sports nutrition drinks—which was recently purchased by Canopy Growth for the purpose of combining Biosteel’s already successful formula with CBD.  

While the regulations in Canada prevent celebrity endorsement right now, the United States is a whole different game and there are whispers that Elliott is poised to be the Biosteel-CBD face when/if the NFL ever allows its players to use it. 

Connor McDavid was asked about cannabis before the 2019 season and the generational star was open minded. “I say this more talking about the CBD side of it, obviously: You’d be stupid not to at least look into it.”

Biosteel co-created by an NHL hockey player

Biosteel was co-created by Mike Cammalleri after his 15-year NHL career ended, but it was during his final season with the Edmonton Oilers that he discovered CBD. The veteran of more than 900 games was looking at healthier options for a back injury and some younger teammates suggested cannabis, which led a team doctor referring him to a cannabis doctor and his first CBD prescription. He’s never looked back since and is hoping to help others by marrying Biosteel and CBD. 

During his playing days Cammalleri witnessed players use all kinds of pills. He told TSN in an interview about one teammate who combined oxycodone, Vicodin, Ambien and beer, calling it ‘The Perfect Storm.’ 

Allowing CBD and THC could part those storm clouds and give athletes a healthier outlook on life. 

Dean Millard records and produces several podcasts including Sports & More, Fantasy Hockey Time, and The Cannabis 101 Podcast. Find him at podcastalley.ca.