The 2018 Winter Olympics are in full swing. Have you ever wondered if Olympians can use cannabis?
In order for WADA to ban a substance, it must meet two of these three criteria: “It has the potential to enhance sports performance, it represents a health risk to the athletes, and it violates the spirit of the sport.”
When Herb asked WADA why they decided to remove CBD from the list, they responded: “Recent scientific literature shows that synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic. Therefore, cannabidiol no longer fulfills two of the three criteria to be considered for inclusion on the list.”
According to Wikitionary, a “cannabimimetic” is “any substance with similar pharmacological effects to those of cannabis.” Therefore, CBD, which is non-intoxicating, doesn’t fit that profile.
On the other hand, synthetic weed, like SPICE, is still prohibited because of its psychoactive effects. But please, smoke the natural stuff instead.
THC Limits Change Too
What’s more, in 2013 WADA changed their restriction on THC. In the past, athletes couldn’t have more than 15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of carboxy-THC in their systems. But since 2013, athletes won’t be penalized unless they have ten times that, 150 ng/mL of THC.
What does that mean in terms of consumption? A WADA official told the Globe and Mail, in order to fail the new 150 ng/mL limit, athletes would have to be “pretty dedicated cannabis consumers.” For some perspective, many American companies who drug test their employees set the threshold closer to WADA’s old limit, between 15 and 100 ng/mL.
WADA does warn athletes that many CBD products are derived from the marijuana plant, and so might contain some THC that could get them in trouble. But, if they use CBD products derived from the hemp plant (which, legally, can only contain 0.3% THC or less according to the Farm Bill 2014), they should be fine.
CBD: A Global Phenomenon
CBD is gaining momentum around the globe. Just last December, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided that cannabidiol (CBD) does not have “abuse potential or cause harm.” This decision came after Raúl Elizalde, father of the first medical CBD patient in Mexico, spoke at WHO’s 39th meeting of Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in November 2017.
Furthermore, even South Korea, where the 2018 Winter Olympics are being held, is introducing its first medical marijuana bill. The bill would move cannabis to a group of drugs that have medical applications, like opiates, and so exceptions can be made for them. Although the proposed bill is still quite strict, it’s a step in the right direction in a country where drug use is still incredibly taboo.
Arne Ljungqvist, who is the chairman of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) Medical Commission and the vice chairman of WADA, told reporters at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, “Marijuana can be a performance-enhancing stimulant and is therefore forbidden in relation to a competition.” However, he added in regards to softening the THC limit, “[Marijuana] is a socially more or less accepted drug being used in social context.”
Basically, a technical way of telling Olympians, don’t smoke before your event, but we understand if you engage occasionally.
How to Use CBD like Olympians
CBD is gaining popularity among athletes, Olympians included, because it provides all the medical benefits of cannabis without the high. Although there’s a growing movement of athletes who also enjoy the psychoactive effects of THC and like to exercise high, let’s try to stick to WADA regulations for this one.
CBD For Post-Work Out Recovery
Olympians train their whole lives for their event. Even though exercise is great, it can really take a toll on the body. Muscle soreness and inflammation can be painful. Plus, it’s not great for the stomach, liver, or heart to take over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers, like Aspirin or Advil, all the time.
That’s where CBD comes in. CBD also helps to decrease muscle inflammation and its associated pain, making it a great alternative to OTC, or even prescription opioids. You can vape hemp-derived CBD for pain, eat an edible, or add some CBD oil to your favorite protein-packed shake. Many companies even make CBD pain relief rubs that can be applied directly to sore muscles like lotion. These types of CBD topicals are great for fast-acting relief from inflammation or soreness.
CBD for Stress
Let’s face it, being an Olympian must be incredibly stressful. The pressure to perform and win is beyond my comprehension. But, CBD works wonders for stress and anxiety without getting consumers buzzed. There are tons of CBD products for anxiety, like vape pens, capsules, and CBD oils.
CBD helps people deal with anxiety because it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is our largest regulatory system that promotes “homeostasis” or balance. In fact, one of the ECS’ main functions is stress recovery, so you can think of CBD as a supplement. Plus, it’s way safer and more natural than prescription anxiety medications, like Xanax or Klonopin.
CBD for Pain Relief
Much in the same way CBD helps post-workout recovery, it also helps pain. Coming back to the ECS, one of its most important jobs is regulating pain perception. Basically, you can use CBD to distract your body from pain, as well as to relieve the inflammation causing pain. Many chronic pain sufferers are trading in dangerous prescription opioid painkillers for CBD-based products. According to a survey of 2,400 people by the Brightfield Group and HelloMD, 42% of CBD users said they stopped taking both OTC and prescription drugs for pain management.
There are tons of great CBD products for pain, like a variety of vape pens, as well as edibles, oil, and topicals.
CBD for Sleep
Can you imagine trying to fall asleep the night before your Olympic event? With that kind of pressure, I’m surprised Olympians sleep at all. Apparently, some Olympians binge watch Netflix to help them sleep, like Red Gerard, the 17-year-old gold medal winner who almost slept through his snowboarding event after a Brooklyn Nine-Nine sesh the night before.
For those 18 and up, CBD can be used to fall and stay asleep. Because CBD relaxes the body and mind, it can help you can catch some serious Zzzs. Plus, there are tons of cannabis companies making CBD products specifically formulated to help you sleep, some infused with relaxing essential oils. It’s definitely a better alternative to sleeping pills, which leave many people feeling groggy the next day – and you don’t want that when you’re competing for the gold.