CBD For Athletes In Professional Sports: Is It Allowed?

A professional runner kneels down to tie his shoes

Unlike most other professions, workplace injuries in professional sports are a pretty typical thing. Chronic pain can lead a lot of athletes to use prescription drugs like opioids, which can unfortunately lead to addiction, dependence, and undesirable side effects. That’s why CBD for athletes is becoming such a popular alternative to traditional medicine for pain management.

However, every professional sports league in the United States takes a different stance on whether or not their players can use CBD. Below, we’ll explore the major sports leagues in the United States and their policies on cannabinoids.

National Football League (NFL)

NFL players with no previous violations are tested once every offseason. Throughout the regular season, players are randomly tested. For a long time, multiple positive test results for banned substances meant a player would be suspended from the league.

Now, with marijuana laws around the country relaxing and more and more players advocating for the use of CBD for athletes’ pain management, the NFL’s rules on CBD are starting to become more lenient. In March 2020, the amount of THC needed to trigger a positive result was quadrupled, and players will no longer receive suspensions for multiple positive test results for THC.

The NFL has had a long history with prescription opioid abuse among players dealing with chronic pain. Now that information on CBD and CBD products themselves are becoming widely available, many NFL officials are testing if using the best CBD oil for athletes is an acceptable alternative for pain management.

National Basketball Association (NBA)

The NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program (2019-20) states that players are prohibited from using marijuana, including synthetic cannabinoids. Their specific consequences for marijuana or any CBD for athletes are described below:

“If a player tests positive for marijuana, or if he is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, the use or possession of marijuana, he will be required to submit to treatment, counseling, and aftercare testing in the Program. A second violation will result in a $25,000 fine, a third violation will result in a 5-game suspension, and any subsequent violations will result in a suspension that is 5 games longer than the player’s immediately-preceding marijuana suspension.”

The NBA tests its players four times during the regular season, but not at all during the offseason. Players are also subject to random testing at any time.

An aerial view of an MLB stadium field.

Major League Baseball (MLB)

The MLB has historically prohibited marijuana use, but only tested when it found “reasonable cause.

However, in April 2020, MLB made a major change when they removed all cannabis-derived compounds, including CBD oil for athletes, from their list of banned substances (adding opioids to the list in the same act).

This reform came soon after the 2019 death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died as a result of a combination of opioids and alcohol. MLB authorities began to revisit their policies towards CBD for athletes in response to this and other longstanding prescription opioid issues within the league. These new policies take effect during the 2020 season.

National Hockey League (NHL)

The NHL has one of the most lenient and progressive policies towards marijuana of all major sporting leagues. This is partially because 28 out of the 31 NHL cities have marijuana legalized for either medicinal or recreational purposes.

The NHL allows its players to use CBD for athletes and other cannabis derivatives, with positive responses from players and coaches.

The NHL is tough on drugs it considers “performance-enhancing,” and it does not consider cannabis as a performance-enhancing drug. The NHL does, however, have a category for what it calls “drugs of abuse,” and marijuana (specifically THC) and cocaine are included in this category.

Players are tested on a teamwide basis with no notice once during the regular season and once during training camp. Players are also subjected to tests if the NHL has information that a player has taken a prohibited substance.

If an NHL player does test positive for high levels of THC, they will not be punished. The Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program league will either develop an individualized treatment plan for the player, which remains confidential through the season.

A soccer ball posed next to a player’s foot.

U.S. Soccer

The U.S. Soccer drug policy states that if the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency or FIFA bans a substance, they will in turn ban said substance.

FIFA has banned all cannabinoids, including CBD for athletes, so U.S. Soccer has followed suit.

National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Sports

The NCAA takes a harder stance on CBD oil for athletes than most professional sports.

They include marijuana and all its derivatives, including CBD, on their list of banned substances. In 2018, a prospective NCAA player was even deemed ineligible to play college football because he took CBD for epilepsy.

The NCAA’s stance on CBD is rigid, and will likely not budge in the near future.

Olympic runners pose on track as an example of the WADA’s stance on CBD.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and CBD

At the beginning of 2018, WADA’s decision to remove CBD for athletes from its list of banned substances went into effect. This was significant for two major reasons.

Firstly, this decision prompted some major sporting organizations around the world to reconsider CBD and how they would approach it moving forward, contributing to major drug policy overhauls throughout sports teams around the world.

Secondly, WADA was the first organization to acknowledge CBD as separate from marijuana and THC. WADA and CBD policies are used by the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees and many National Anti-Doping Organizations, including the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

A model holds out an EndoCoast hat as an example of the best CBD oil brand for athletes.

How We Try to Create The Best CBD Oil For Athletes

As the opioid crisis worsens, many athletes are turning to natural remedies to manage their pain. There’s a whole host of reasons why CBD for athletes is so popular, and why so many athletes are advocating for more lenient policies in professional sports.

Lab-tested CBD from EndoCoast is a safe, holistic remedy for pain, inflammation, and anxiety. We ensure our high-quality CBD oil products contain no harmful chemicals by using a state-of-the-art CO2 extraction process, eliminating the need for harsh solvents, and lab-test to ensure each of our products is legally free of THC.

Our online CBD collection features products derived from organically-grown, pesticide-free, all-natural hemp. In our full-spectrum CBD products, all parts of the hemp plant work synergistically together for maximum benefits. If you’re an athlete who’s struggled with injuries or pain management, you may find that CBD could help you #findyourcoast.

Have more questions? Explore our Learning Center where we explain everything you need to know about CBD or contact our expert team at support@endocoast.com for personalized help.