Not too long ago, few people had even heard of CBD. Because of how relatively new it is to public knowledge, many organizations choose to simply ban it outright. To the NCAA, CBD falls under their definition of banned substances, but a huge debate surrounds it.
Professional sport drug restrictions are in place for many important reasons: to keep competition fair, to ensure athletes are healthy, and to keep players at their peak performance levels. However, many believe that the NCAA has gone too far. The NCAA banned substances list takes a very hard line on drug consumption (including CBD) for their athletes. Caffeine is even listed—players can’t have too much coffee before a game!
Read on as we explore the NCAA’s contentious decisions regarding CBD and sports.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association oversees 1,098 colleges and universities (not including reclassifying, provisional, or exploratory schools), as well as 102 athletics conferences. This consists of over half a million college athletes and 19,886 teams.
From their headquarters in Indianapolis, the NCAA operates via committees that propose rules and policies around college sports. Their goal is to make play fair across their championships and prioritize academics alongside rigorous sportsmanship.
In May 2018, the NCAA and officials from Auburn University decided that promising graduate C.J. Harris would not be eligible to play football. Why? Because he was using CBD oil to treat his seizures.
THC is the compound derived from cannabis that creates a “high.” CBD is also a compound derived from cannabis, but it is not psychoactive. This means that CBD cannot get you “high.” The CBD oil Harris was using contained less than 0.3% THC. However, according to the NCAA, CBD that contains any trace amount of THC automatically bans players from eligibility.
Harris had long suffered from seizures and found that high-quality CBD oil was his only relief. Using CBD allowed Harris to control his life-threatening seizures and helped him lead his high school football team to a state championship game. In fact, one of CBD’s only FDA-approved uses is in a drug called Epidolex, used to treat seizures; however, according to the NCAA, CBD and sports could not mix for any reason, including as a treatment for epilepsy.
The decision was immediately controversial, prompting outrage from lawmakers, sports fans, and even Big 10 coaches. Phil Gattone, CEO and president of the Epilepsy Foundation, said in a statement, "We urge the NCAA to review their existing guidelines on THC and explore possible exceptions to allow players under medical treatment, like CJ, the ability to fulfill their dreams of playing college football.”
This was before the 2018 Farm Bill was passed in December, which effectively legalized the production and sale of hemp-derived products across the country, including CBD. Now, even after the bill, the NCAA still takes a hard line on CBD. The NCAA banned substance list bans all cannabinoids, including both CBD and THC, even for players with epilepsy.
Full and broad-spectrum CBD oil can contain trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3 percent). That amount by itself is not likely to register positive for CBD on a drug test. NCAA-mandated drug tests (and most drug tests in general) do not detect CBD, only THC.
However, we can’t say for sure that the test will be negative. That’s because THC builds up in the body over time. If you’re taking a heavy dose of full-spectrum CBD every day, enough THC might remain in your system to fail the drug test. The Benefits of CBD For Athletes
Despite the NCAA’s stance on CBD, many athletes are turning to CBD as a pain-management alternative to prescription and NSAID over-the-counter drugs. As the popularity of CBD increases across the US, multiple studies have been released evaluating the effect of CBD on multiple ailments, including:
Considering all these benefits, it’s no surprise that many NCAA athletes want to try CBD. However, the NCAA banned substances list is strict, and so far, it won’t budge on its stance towards cannabinoids.
At EndoCoast, we see CBD as an incredible holistic tool to help keep the body’s endocannabinoid system healthy and balanced through the stresses of everyday life. While CBD substances are currently banned by the NCAA, other sports (like the NFL and NHL) have accepted the benefits of CBD in sports.
To help athletes around the US #findtheircoast, we’ve created a line of the best CBD products crafted from organically-grown hemp and 3rd-party lab-tested to ensure every batch is pure, potent, and free of THC. We believe CBD should be natural and holistic to give athletes the best benefits possible. That’s why we create full-spectrum CBD, which contains all the natural cannabinoids found in hemp to provide a synergistic phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.”