Do you often hear “Cannabis is only used by lazy stoners!” or other biased beliefs? This is a long held view which has meant acceptance of marijuana as medicine has been slow. But we’re getting there. And, in no small part, thanks to people who are as far from lazy or inactive ‘stoners’ as it’s possible to get: athletes. In fact, a paper published in Frontiers in Public Health found that cannabis users are more likely to hit the gym than stay on the couch. It’s no wonder that cannabis users are able to keep those pounds off!
Here are 5 superstar athletes who advocate for the use of marijuana and how they use it as part of their training and recovery.
1. Eugene Monroe – NFL
Back in 2016, Eugene Monroe announced that he used marijuana for injuries he sustained as an active National Football League player, as well as for chronic pain. At the time, he was playing for the Baltimore Ravens, although he has now retired.
The NFL still tests their players for cannabis, despite Monroe’s calls for them to stop, emphasizing that compared to opioids and other prescription medications, cannabis is much safer. The current NFL cannabis testing rules were relaxed in March 2020 but still remain in place.
Other NFL players who’ve used cannabis and advocate for its medical properties include Ricky Williams (founder of Real Wellness, a line of cannabis-based products), Nate Jackson, Eben Britton, Cliff Robin and Kyle Turley .
2. Liz Carmouche – MMA Fighter
Mixed martial artist, title challenger, U.S. Marine Corp. veteran and LGBTQ advocate Liz Carmouche is one of a long line of combat sports practitioners who use CBD and/or cannabis. For Liz, as it does for many athletes, using CBD topicals and salves after workouts helps her battle pain and inflammation. Liz Carmouche likes to use cannabis-derived CBD, and is a spokesperson for Medical Marijuana, Inc.
Other well-known MMA fighters who use cannabis include the Diaz brothers, Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Matt Riddle and Sean O’Malley.
3. Amy Van Dyken – Swimmer
Many people are familiar with Michael Phelps’ cannabis use, but Amy Van Dyken is another swimmer with multiple Olympic gold medals who uses CBD. Unfortunately, Van Dyken suffered from an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) injury in 2014 that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Amy Van Dyken uses CBD for her neuropathic pain, and says that using it has improved her quality of life immensely. Amy Van Dyken has sung the praises of Kannaway CBD in the past.
4. Dee Dussault – Yoga Practitioner
When it comes to combining cannabis and Yoga, there are few names as important in the US and Canada as Dee Dussault, who popularized the practise almost 10 years ago. She was the first to do so to a public audience, and many imitators have been spawned since. Dee is the author of Ganja Yoga, and is now considered the pioneer of cannabis-infused Yoga sessions in the Western world.
Another well known name in the yoga community who uses cannabis is Jessamyn Stanley who talks about how both yoga and marijuana are part of her daily routine of health and wellness.
5. Avery Collins – Ultramaranother
For the average person, an ultramarathon is 26 miles. For Avery Collins, an ultramarathon is a distance of between 50 and 200 miles on mountainous terrain. His secret? Cannabis, which he was consuming before he even became a marathon runner. In fact, Collins is even sponsored by a cannabis company – The Farm Co. Dispensary. A far cry away from being banned from competition for consuming cannabis.
Are Some Sports More Open to Cannabis Use Than Others?
To some extent, yes. There are many athletes in combat and extreme sports who are ardent advocates of medical cannabis. Snowboarding, for example, has the likes of Jim McAlpine (who also founded the 420 Games, now the Civilized Games) and Greta Gaines. Combat sports has many names, like Mike Tyson, Bas Rutten and the hugely popular Joe Rogan extolling the virtues of medical cannabis.
The level of openness towards cannabis depends on the organization as well as sport. The Olympics is notoriously strict when it comes to cannabis, but others may be far more sympathetic. However, for every superstar athlete who gets a pass (or at least acceptance) on their cannabis use, there are many others who don’t, even in sports that are more tolerant of their athletes using cannabis.
Why Athletes Use Cannabis
There are many medical benefits which cannabis users enjoy which are very useful and effective for people who are extremely active and rely on their bodies on a day to day basis:
- Enhances recovery – decreases pain and soreness; better sleep.
- Increases motivation – exercise produces the natural form of THC, anandamide, which is responsible for the “runner’s high”. Those who seek the rewarding effects of cannabinoids may want to seek them in their natural form, too!
- Stimulates appetite – you need fuel to exercise properly.
- Can help reduce the chances of exercise-induced anxiety, which can be caused by overproduction of cortisol.
- An alternative to more addictive painkillers and sedatives.
- CBD could also be an ideal replacement for anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
Increased enjoyment of exercise – you are more likely to do it if you’re well-rested and not in pain!
- Some athletes, like the wrestler Rob Van Dam, believe that cannabis may have protected them from brain injury.
- Sometimes, exercise is a repetitive grind. Cannabis can help fight through this mental barrier.
Despite these benefits, cannabis is still a prohibited substance on many sports-related drug tests, including those in place for the Olympic Games. This has seen athletes have their titles stripped or suspended, but also seen athletics commissions loosen their stance on cannabis due to the science behind medical marijuana and the number of athletes who have said that it helps them (see snowboarder Ross Rebagliati).
However, a lot of work still needs to be done, and many athletes in both the professional and amateur leagues can still face problems due to the stigmas surrounding cannabis that persist to this day. When even accidental consumption can leave a blot on an athlete’s career, it seems that a change in attitude is very much needed.
If you’re an athlete interested in using medical marijuana as part of your exercise routine, get a medical card today: