Culture Lifestyle Opinion/Editorial Sports

Should Medical Cannabis Be Embraced by Professional Sports Leagues?

By Brenden Smith

It’s one of the most controversial and on-going subjects in the world of professional sports. For the most part, the one thing pretty much everyone agrees on is that the use of performance-enhancing drugs should be prohibited. And it is – hence the zero-tolerance policy most professional sports franchises take to drugs across the board.

But what about the kinds of drugs professional athletes turn to for reasons other than performance-enhancement? In the case of medical cannabis, here’s a substance that can’t exactly be considered a performance-enhancement drug in any way, shape or form. We’re not talking about cannabis for improving physical performance, but simply an alternative to conventional pharmaceuticals.

Nevertheless, athletes who turn to cannabis purely for medicinal purposes are routinely being punished for doing so.

Even in the North American states where medical cannabis has been legalized, professional athletes are warned to go near cannabis at their own peril.

A Growing Argument

From the NFL to the WWE and across professional sports in general, it’s becoming anything but uncommon to hear of athletes finding themselves in the firing line for using medical cannabis. Irrespective of overwhelming evidence to suggest that medicinal cannabis products can be far more effective in the treatment of injuries, muscles aches, chronic pain and even concussion and conventional pharmaceuticals. It seems the fact that athletes are supposed to serve as health-focused role models with God-like morals is completely overshadowing the fact that medical cannabis really isn’t an evil substance after all.

Day after day, professional athletes push their bodies beyond the limitations of mere mortals. Which in the best instances leads to muscle stiffness, aches, pulls and pains – some of which become chronic. Which in turn can influence not only their careers, but also their everyday lives. When this happens, professional sports authorities and the nation in general doesn’t so much as blink when professional painkillers are prescribed. Despite the fact that prescription painkillers are associated with a quite hideous list of side effects, along with the ever-present risk of addiction.

By contrast, medical cannabis is known to present no such side effects whatsoever and nor is there any documented evidence to suggest any risk of addiction.

The CBD Effect

On-going studies focusing on the endocannabinoid system have clearly demonstrated the potential benefits of cannabinoids like CBD, when used for a variety of therapeutic purposes. While the human body naturally produces a certain amount of CBD, the introduction of additional measured doses of the cannabinoid can actively improve and enhance the body’s ability to heal itself. From muscle spasticity to chronic pain right through to bone fractures, CBD has been tried, tested and proven in its capability to significantly speed up the healing process.

All without any of the risks associated with conventional opioids and prescription painkillers in general.

Drawing the Line

The problem being that far too many people seem unable to draw any kind of distinction between CBD and THC. Though known to have certain therapeutic properties and benefits of its own, THC is nonetheless the powerful psychoactive component within cannabis that’s responsible for getting the user high. Nevertheless, when THC is removed from the equation entirely, the resulting substance becomes entirely ‘dormant’ on the psychoactive side of the equation.

Roughly translated – medicinal cannabis products that focus on CBD rather than THC cannot and will not get you high. They are simply about providing the body with both relief and encouragement to speed up the healing process naturally. Medical cannabis never has been and never will be about simply getting stoned, yet the two classifications of cannabis continue to be tarred with the same brush in the world of professional sports.

Professionally prescribed and carefully administered medical cannabis can replicate and improve upon the effects of commonly used muscle relaxants, analgesics, opiates and painkillers. All without any of the potential side effects, damage to the internal organs or risk of addiction. What’s more, the fact that CBD cannabis products are not about getting high makes it both unfair and irresponsible not to publicly draw a line between the two.

While ever professional sports authorities continue to stigmatise cannabis in all its forms, entirely the wrong message is being communicated to the general public on a daily basis.

For the sake of everyone therefore, it really is time for a long-overdue rethink on attitudes to medical cannabis within the world of professional sports.

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