Big3 to permit use of cannabidiol (CBD) for pain management, recovery

Getty Images
7 Comments

The NBA — like other professional sports leagues — has a lot of players taking various (and, at times, extensive) pain medications to handle the rigors of playing in the sport (the human body was not meant to run multiple marathons on a hardwood surface every year, as regular rotation NBA players do over the course of a season). Those pain medications come with their own concerns and side effects that are a concern to players and medical staffs.

The Big3 Wednesday became the first league to allow the use of cannabidiol — better known as CBD — pain management and recovery.

“The BIG3 is uniquely positioned in professional sports as a player-powered league that looks at our players as partners not property,” BIG3 Co-Founder Jeff Kwatinetz said in a statement. “As a testament to our relationship with our players, we listened to their feedback on CBD, as well as feedback from professionals in the regulatory and CBD industry, and decided to take this major step to support their health.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) has removed CBD from its list of banned substances.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in cannabis (meaning both hemp and, as your grandmother would call it, marijuana). However, CBD has exceedingly little to no THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana (what gets you stoned and gives you a craving for Doritos). Put simply, CBD will not get you high. Backers of CBD say it helps from inflammation, pain, anxiety, and other issues or conditions.

One of those backers is Al Harrington, the former NBA player who is now in the Big3 and has his own CBC business.

The NBA and other professional sports leagues should follow suit (they, however, will be much more cautious). The pain and anti-inflammatory medications that NBA players use take their own toll on the body, a steep one over time. CBD is natural and, if it helps, would be better for the players’ bodies over the long haul than prescribed painkillers.

Is CBD legal? Well, that is complex. Backers say CBD derived from hemp is legal in all 50 state. In 46 states it can be prescribed by a doctor, although enforcement of that can be spotty. CBD derived from marijuana (it can be isolated from THC) is only legal in states where marijuana use is legalized. The federal government — stuck in the 1950s in so, so many ways — says all of it is illegal, and with the Attorney General stuck in the old-school thinking that marijuana is a gateway drug who knows how and when that will shift. But it will. The old guard is on its way out on these issues.