In January 1st, the World’s Anti-Doping Association (WADA) allowed the use of CBD in the olympics by removing cannabidiol from the list of prohibited substances.
For an average Joe, it was yet another Winter Olympics. But for CBD enthusiasts, patients, and sportsmen around the world, it was a particularly important event because they could witness the major breakthrough in the health organizations’ approach to cannabis this year.
So, are Olympians allowed to use CBD in the olympics? The answer is a resounding “YES.”
However, in order to understand the current legislation on CBD in the olympics, we need to take a closer look at what exactly WADA has to say in this regard.
CBD in the olympics: since when is it legal?
Like we said, WADA removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances on January 1st, 2018.
This means that olympic athletes can now use cannabidiol and different CBD-infused products for different ailments and as a supplement under one specific condition:
CBD products used by athletes must be non-intoxicating, meaning the concentration of THC cannot breach the 0.2% threshold. Since the use of THC is still prohibited in the Olympic Games, CBD has to be sourced from industrial hemp, which is bred to contain only trace amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
Why did WADA decide to allow CBD in the Olympics?
When asked about their decision, WADA stated the following:
Recent scientific literature shows that synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic. Therefore, cannabidiol no longer fulfills two of the three criteria considered for inclusion on the list of prohibited substances.
Just for the sake of clarification: in order for WADA to ban a substance, it must fall under two of these three criteria:
It has the potential to enhance sports performance, it represents a health risk to the athletes, and it violates the spirit of the sport.
According to the current research on CBD and sports, cannabidiol has been shown to aid athletes in regeneration, improve their focus, reduce muscle soreness, increase muscle endurance during a workout, ease pain, and alleviate anxiety.
Although researchers and patients believe in the entourage effect in Cannabis, meaning THC and CBD achieve best results when they occur together in an extract, we need to give WADA more time to reconsider their policy towards the psychoactive cousin of CBD.
This will take a while, though, as the laws around cannabis are still very strict on the federal level.
Nonetheless, we can observe winds of positive change blowing in THC’s direction.
THC limits to be more friendly now?
On top of legalizing the use of CBD in the Olympics, WADA also became more restrictive when it comes to THC. In the past, athletes could have up to 15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of carboxy-THC in their systems. But since 2013, no athlete will be penalized unless he or she have ten times that, which is 150 ng/mL of THC.
WADA states that in order to fail the new test for THC, athletes would have to be “pretty dedicated cannabis users,” so the new limits are, let’s say, more human-friendly. At the same time WADA warns athletes that many CBD products are sourced from the female cannabis plant, and so might be rich in THC.
Still, if they use only hemp-derived CBD oil products that contain less than 0.3% THC, they can conider themselves safe.
Allowing CBD in the Olympics can have a knock-on effect on other sports associations
This just in. It always starts with giants making one step forward to trigger the domino effect in a given industry. Guess what? The sports industry is no exception.
This winter’s Olympic Games are even more important in the context of using CBD by the Olympians. The 2018 Winter Olympics were held in South Korea, where the government introduced its first medical cannabis bill. The bill would move the plant to a group of drugs that have medical uses. This will make cannabis products more available for individuals in certain instances.
WADA isn’t the only one to support the use of CBD
Prior to the Olympic Games, WHO decided that CBD does not have abuse potential or cause harm. The decision coincided with the speech of Raul Elizalde, father of the first medical CBD patient in Mexico in November 2017.
More interestingly, it looks like WADA is not the only organization to allow the use of CBD by its athletes. North American Premier Basketball League, which is a new pro sports league in the U.S., accepted CBD products in February 2018, following the instructions of WADA.
Why do athletes advocate for the legal use of CBD oil?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, has been proven by independent studies to aid people in a wide variety of physical and mental ailments. When it comes to CBD in the olympics, athletes are particularly exposed to damage from the both sides.
Being on this level requires participants to be in an extemely good shape in order to break the olympic records. Thus, they remain in danger of frequent pain (acute and chronic), anxiety, physical and mental stress, and more.
According to the growing body of scientific evidence, CBD has an apparent impact on the aforementioned conditions. Scientists associate this with the relationship of cannabidiol with the human Endocannabinoid System.
The regulations for CBD in the olympics are as follows:
1. Pre-workout enhacement
Nowadays, there is a myriad of different pre-workout formulas on the market, whose manufacturers claim that they will bring your workout regimen to an entirely new dimension.
These pre-workouts, however, tend to produce a jittery boost that not everyone is comfortable with. Moreover, if one uses such pre-workouts too frequently, there is an increased risk of cardiac issues, not to metion that you will simply become mentally tired over time.
On the contrary, a small dosage of CBD may be enough to lift your bottom line energy levels for, say, between 8 to 10 hours. What separates hemp-derived CBD products from their cannabis-sourced counterparts is that they contain very little to no THC. Thus, hemp CBD oil won’t trigger anxiety; in fact, CBD can counter anxiety attacks, and as such, you may very well use it if you need to get this highly-focused state of mind for your next workout.
2. Higher pain and enndurance thresholds
Like many patients suffering from chronic pain, athletes, too, admit that CBD is an analgesic powerhouse, meaning it can relieve pain accross the board.
As you might have guessed, CBD can work as a powerful painkiller. It also applies to muscular/mental tension during an exercise. Of course, the tension and tiredness will still be there. But the good news is you probably won’t experience it as much so you can do. This will allow you to push one rep more during the final set, or go beond your limits more than you normally would during the cardio.
3. Post-workout recovery
Using CBD in the olympics seems like a common sense, given that Olympians train their whole lives for their event. Even though exercise should keep you healthy, being a competitive athlete can really take a toll on the body. Muscle soreness and inflammation are one of the most common conditions among professional athletes.
Studies suggest that CBD can this soreness and tune down inflammation by interacting with the CB2 receptors in the body. This way, it strengthens the immune responses. It’s more like dealing with the core of the issue instead of only masking the symptoms.
On top of that, CBD is much safer than over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers, which is why athletes tend to choose the natural alternative as their recovery booster.
4. Stress relief
Can you imagine trying to fall asleep the night before the most important event in your life? With that kind of pressure, even the toughest contestants can experience sleep deprivation.
For athletes who are 18 and up, CBD can help them fall and stay asleep. Because CBD reduces the stress (both in the mind and the body), it can help you catch some good-quality sleep.
There are many CBD products specifically designed to help you sleep. Some of them are even infused with relaxing essential oils for better effects. It’s hands down a better option than sleeping pills. They, in turn, leave many people exasperated the next day. And no athlete would want that when competing for a gold medal.
New times, outdated policies…
WADA and NAPB are one of the few associations that decided to change their policies regarding the use of CBD. Unfortunately, the biggest leagues in the sports industry still have very strict laws around cannabidiol. The list includes NBA, NHL, NFL, NCAA, and MLB.
None of the above organizations differentiate CBD and THC. They claim that any substance with effects similar to cannabis will remain illegal. Therefore, they won’t permit the use of CBD oil.
The story of C.J. Harris
The absurd has reached the plateau a week ago, when a standout strong safety C.J. Harris didn’t get the permission from NCAA to play in college. This happened because he was using CBD oil to help with his seizures. Despite the outrage sparked from advocates, lawmakers and sports fans, the organization will not allow him to play if he remains on CBD oil. Strangely, if C.J. switched to prescription meds, NCAA would permit him to participate in the college league.
Making CBD legal in the sports leagues is a process
And this process is definitely not a short one. Fortunately, as the number of studies in the matter of cannabidiol is increasing, and the attitude toward cannabis is changing as well, we can hope that CBD will become legal in the major sports organizations sooner or later.
Even former NBA Commissioner David Stern made some pretty surprising statements in a last year’s interview. He talked with with retired NBA player Al Harrington.
I’m now at the point where personally I think [cannabis] probably should be removed from the banned list.
Let us hope that more people who are in position to make legislative changes in the sports industry will be more willing to change the unfair and long-outdated policies regarding the use of CBD oil. For now, allowing the use of CBD in the Olympics is a huge step forward for all cannabidiol supporters out there.