Cannabis has had a rising profile in recent years. Governments in more countries are decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana. An even bigger number of them is at least legalizing the use of medical marijuana.
These recent changes are having an impact on athletes too. Athletic performance is always looking at means of gaining the extra advantage from training to on-field performance. Recent developments have seen the focus shift to the effects of weed on athletes.
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The effects of weed on athletes still need further research for more conclusive recommendations. However, there is enough evidence of the effects of weed on athletes, whether in their training, recovery, or competitions.
In the past years, cannabis and athletes were never a good mix. But thanks to the progressive attitude towards weed globally, pro athletes’ y does not seem out of place anymore.
Why are Cannabinoids Banned in Sport?
The first step would be to understand why there is a ban on cannabinoids in sport. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has since 2004 placed cannabis on its prohibited list of substances for athletes. For a substance to get into the WADA prohibited list, it must meet at least three of the following conditions;
- The substance has the potential to enhance the performance of the athlete.
- Use of the substance can have harmful effects on the athlete’s health
- The substance’s use violates the spirit of the sport.
WADA found the effects of weed on athletes to meet all three criteria. In its findings in a 2011 paper, the agency pointed out that cannabis has a potential health risk to athletes when used in competition.
WADA noted that there is enough evidence to show the effects of weed on athletes to increase risk-taking, which increased the chances of accidents. The substance also led to poor decision-making and interfered with the body motor functions and slower reaction times.
WADA also noted that enhanced performance is one of the effects of weed on athletes. Using the information from human and animal studies and interviews with athletes and information they gathered from the field, the organization is convinced cannabis can boost performance in some sports.
Part of this is dues to the relaxing and calming effects of weed on athletes and the increased risk-taking and, in some cases, better concentration.
Finally, the organization points out that cannabinoids violate the spirit of the sport. This third part of the criteria is not quantifiable scientifically. It, however, considers the social and ethical implications of using a substance.
It also uses the values that sport is supposed to espouse, including ethics, honesty, health, fun, character, commitment, dedication, and respect for rules and laws. As such, the effects of weed on athletes will not serve a good example to young people around the world.
Because of these effects of weed on athletes, WADA banned cannabis from sports. It is important to note that cannabis is only banned in sport. Athletes can still use cannabis only up to 12 hours before a competition. In 2018, WADA, following progress made elsewhere, decided to exempt CBD from the prohibition list.
Another change that has been recently made is the increase in the threshold for THC. The threshold is set at a concentration of 150 ng/mL in urine. There is no threshold for other cannabinoids.
Athletes using cannabinoids need to keep in mind the time for the substance to be fully passed from the body. This duration depends on the type of cannabinoid, the dosage, how often you use it, your overall metabolism, and liver function. Your weight and general health also affect the elimination of the substance from the body.
If you are a frequent user, it could take weeks to months and thus show up in tests. Consult with your doctor on the clearance time you have for the cannabinoids you are using to avoid testing positive during competition.
Do Athletes Use Cannabinoids?
Yes, athletes use different cannabinoids. Cannabis use is more prominent among athletes, and one study in France found that the higher the level of sports, the more athletes used cannabis. The use of medical marijuana in athletes is also on the rise. Mostly, athletes use cannabis because of its relaxation and pain-relieving properties.
Recent years have also seen athletes in all sports, from soccer to NFL stars landing endorsement deals from CBD and marijuana brands. Most of the anecdotal evidence on the enhancement capabilities of weed on athletes comes from interviews with pro athletes in various sports.
WADA and most national anti-doping agencies like in Canada and the US also have an allowance for medical exemption from the ban on the use of cannabis. Some stringent rules and requirements guide the use of medical marijuana in athletes’ treatment.
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Negative Effects of Weed on Athletes
Cannabis can have a negative effect on athletic performance. Some of the negative effects of weed on athletes include:
- Cannabis can distort your perception of risk and lead to poor decision-making, which puts you and other athletes at risk while affecting your performance.
- It may negatively affect your motor skills, which hampers your coordination, movement, and time estimation, all of which can lead to poor performance.
- It can impair your technical skills, which will cause poor performance in sports requiring handling or equipment.
- The use of cannabis products laced with other substances can lead to intoxication.
- Withdrawal from use has psychological symptoms like anxieties and restlessness, which will hamper your performance.
- Other adverse effects of weed on athletes may cause a host of other general health complications, which will hinder your ability to compete and even participate in athletics.
Positive Effects of Weed on Athletes
It is not just gloom, though, with cannabis. While more research is still needed on the subject, there is growing evidence on the positive effects of weed on athletes. A 2011 study established that cannabis could improve performance in the following ways;
- Increase oxygen levels reaching the issues which will improve your stamina
- It enhances concentration and vision
- Aids in pain relief
- It is effective against anxiety and stress
- It alleviates muscle spasms
- It improves sleep and recovery efforts
- It helps athletes overcome fear and trauma from past events like injuries
How CBD Can Help Athletes
While other cannabinoids are banned and illegal in most places, CBD is not, and, in the US, it is readily available in many states. CBD also does not come with the adverse effects of weed on athletes. To an athlete, it has the following advantages;
It Alleviates Inflammation
CBD will help you overcome pre-and post-workout inflammation. This property prevents muscle soreness and helps you recover faster from harder training programs.
Boosts your Sleep Quality
CBD use leads to healthier sleep cycles without the downside of drowsiness. An excellent sleep cycle is essential for recovery and muscle growth.
Provides Pain Relief
Analgesic properties of CBD help relieve pain and sores during and after competition and training. It also does not have the addiction and side effects of opioids.
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CBD will help prevent the breakdown of lean muscle tissue and promote the building of more muscle mass.
- It will help stimulate your appetite allowing you to replenish your nutrition and have faster recovery as you build the needed mass.
- It has anti-emetic properties that prevent nausea which could affect your performance.
- It has antispasmodic properties which help you overcome muscle spasms.
More studies will further shed light on the effects of weed on athletes. In the meantime, whether you are a pro athlete or just training for fun, you should base your decision to use any cannabinoids on sound medical advice.
It has shown it can boost or derail performance depending on the products and dosage you are using. CBD provides an alternative you can start with. It does not have THC, the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of weed on athletes.
In most states, you will need a medical marijuana card to use cannabis for treatment. Mmjdoctor.com can help you get the doctor’s recommendation you want in an instant from the comfort of your room. We are available 24/7 and have an extensive team of doctors knowledgeable in the use of medical marijuana in athletes. The application process is short and straightforward.