Is the NFL Exploring CBD as a Potential Aid for Players?

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CBD has become a regular part of many people’s diet and health care routines. Over the last few years, there has been a wave of research highlighting the potential health benefits of CBD. This has, in turn, led to a growing number of people becoming interested in CBD and looking to try CBD for themselves.

Despite so many people now using CBD daily, it is still considered a banned substance within most professional sports; this includes The National Football League. However, this looks like it will begin to change with the NFL announcing in 2019 that they planned on researching how CBD could be used as a pain management tool.

In 2019, the NFL created the Pain Management Committee to decide on the future role CBD will play within professional sports. Over the next few years, the plan is to work with manufacturers known for creating the best CBD vape juice, CBD topicals, and other CBD products designed for pain management.

For now, it is unclear what the outcome will be, but it looks like things are set to change in the future for athletes.

The Role That CBD Has Played in the NFL in the Past

Under current rules, NFL players are not allowed to use CBD. Any player found to have CBD in their system when drug tested faces suspension and a permanent mark on their record within the industry. This stance is not unique to the NFL, as most professional sporting bodies currently have similar rules in place.

In 2020 the NFL stated that despite research being carried out into different CBD delivery systems and their benefits, they still did not have enough evidence to support the use of CBD.

Research is still ongoing, though, as the NFL has acknowledged the painkiller addiction issues within professional sports. The long-term goal is to try and have enough evidence that CBD can be effectively used as an alternative to potentially extremely addictive pain medications.

Arguments for CBD Being Used Within the NFL

CBD is known for its natural anti-inflammatory properties and is the primary use that is being considered within the NFL. An increasing number of people from all walks of life use CBD as a natural form of pain management. It has been argued that professional athletes should not be excluded from benefiting from CBD in this way.

A study published in 2018 in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that over 26% of retired NFL players admitted to using prescription opioids in the last 30 days. Worryingly, half of the 26% said that they were not using them for their prescribed reasons.

There is a strong argument that natural pain remedies like CBD provide similar effects as traditional pain medication but without many negatives. It is hoped that by allowing NFL players to use CBD oil to manage pain, there will be a reduction in players’ reliance on addictive alternatives.

New CBD Policies Within the NFL

The first steps to changing the rules regarding CBD in professional sports were taken in March 2020. Following a long-fought agreement between the NFL and the players union, it was agreed that players who tested positive for cannabis would no longer be suspended.

As an alternative, players who do test positively will now face a fine, equivalent to a few weeks’ salaries. This is a significant change from a career-ending suspension. It has also been suggested that, for first-time offenses, players will have to complete a treatment program that the NFL has put together.

The focus has thus been shifted towards treatment and support as opposed to only punishment.

How drug tests are carried out has also been changed. Players will now be tested during the first two weeks of training. This is a massive change from the previous policy whereby players could be tested throughout the season, which runs from April to August.

Additionally, the threshold for the amount of THC that causes a positive drug test has been changed. It is now thought that as long as a CBD product meets the 0.3% legal THC limit, it should not show on a routine drug test.

While all of these changes are great news for the future of professional sports, the NFL is still sticking to its anti-CBD approach. Players who refuse to participate in testing or treatment actively could still face a three-month match ban.

About the Author

Kayla Burns

Kayla Burns’ passion for learning all there is to know about CBD, and the uniquely engaging cannabis industry started when she studied Nutrition and Dietetics at the prestigious Central Michigan University. Over the last few years, Kayla has worked to divide her time between sharing her intimate knowledge of CBD through her various articles on Way of Leaf and devoting her as much of her time as possible towards educating people about the beneficial effects of cannabis.

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