Jay Hartenbach, co-Founder and CEO of Medterra CBD.
With the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, the sale of CBD became legal for the first time since the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, and with that, decades of prohibition were erased and a new frontier for cannabis emerged. While this has quickly led to the adoption of CBD across the US with both smaller and major retailers alike carrying CBD products, there is a key user group that is still waiting for approval on the use of CBD â€“ professional athletes.
Where the 2014 Farm Bill established the right for select license holders to cultivate hemp, the 2018 Farm Bill transitioned CBD into a permanently legal substance, free to be sold without the need of a license or permit. For many, this was the inflection point that industry advocates had been waiting on and fighting for. While the idea of a national retailer selling a cannabis-derived product seemed impossible even five years ago, most consumers now wonâ€™t blink an eye seeing the CBD display at their local CVS or Kroger. Yet, as quickly as this industry has reached legalization and mainstream adoption, most professional sports leagues are still hesitant to embrace the natural product.
With CBDâ€™s strong anti-inflammatory properties, this has not gone without protest. Numerous calls by both active and retired athletes have been made to reverse this stance â€“ with many retired players becoming ambassadors, investors or vocal supporters in the natural products. In a 2016 ESPN poll, 61% of NFL players responded that players would take less painkillers if cannabis derived products were allowed.
Yet, even with the various bans, many active athletes are taking CBD products in the privacy of their homes. Weighing the risks of being caught, many professional athletes are opting to do their own research and trying various CBD products. Unfortunately, this is not without risk due to the wide variance in quality between CBD companies. There are still CBD products available that are outright mislabeled. Mislabeled products can contain a variety of contaminants and traces of THC – the psychoactive compound in marijuana and currently prohibited by all professional leagues and testing agencies.
With so much positive feedback from athletes, adopting the natural product seems like a given. The next step for larger adoption across professional sporting leagues will come from trust in the quality of products. Third party auditors like the US Hemp Authority, which uses a 100+ point checklist in verifying a CBD companyâ€™s cultivation, manufacturing and sales, have led the push towards compliance and quality.
In the past year, weâ€™ve seen progress. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which oversees testing for a number of sports including Olympic competition, approved the use of pure CBD in 2018. The PGA Tour also recently approved the use of pure CBD, and athletes were quick to incorporate it within their regiments. Major Winner Lucas Glover, who qualified for the Champions Tour for the first time in 10 years, cites CBD as one of the reasons for his comeback to golfâ€™s most elite.
Lacking FDA regulations, CBD companies have also stepped forward in an effort to create further transparency. Many companies now publish full certificates of analysis on their websites verifying the products are cleaned and labeled correctly. Going one step further, Medterra has implemented QR codes on its packaging so that shoppers can quickly pull up a complete lab report of each product.
Fortunately, the FDA has expressed interest in furthering CBD legislation. Earlier this year the FDA deputy commissioner, Dr. Amy Abernethy, confirmed the FDAâ€™s transition to regulating CBD as a dietary supplement.Â And with the recent push by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the industry expects the FDA will come forward in the next 90 days with true guidelines for the CBD industry to operate within. At that point, there can be no denying of CBD to professional athletes.
While this will most assuredly result in a tidal wave of athletes releasing their own products or endorsing a CBD company, the athletes that truly can benefit from the products will be able to without risk or consequence. Maybe a Shaq CBD cream isnâ€™t the worst thing.
Photo from Pixabay.
The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.
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