CBD And Professional Sports – The NHL Is Now Considering It
The NHL and professional sports in general still have a long road ahead of them but the NHL’s former and current governing bodies are slowly and cautiously changing the perception of players using CBD in the NHL.
Currently, cannabis is not on the NHL’s list of banned substances and any players caught using cannabis-related substances are not automatically fined or suspended like they would be in other leagues like the NFL or MLB. Instead, the NHL does not publicly identify players if they test positive for cannabis use and only if a player is shown to need substance abuse treatment is any action taken.
The NHL’s somewhat lenient attitude doesn’t necessarily mean the organization approves of cannabis use, some executives have said that a history of consumption would still be a detriment to anyone with a promising career in the league.
Ahead of Canada’s legalization of the substance, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the Associated Press that the league was comfortable with their health program the way it currently is and will consider any changes if needed in the future.
Executive director of the NHL Players Association Don Fehr told The Athletic that ” it is possible that the NHL and the NHLPA could come to an informal understanding about marijuana usage among players in the league in the future”.
Several players appear to be more open to experimenting with cannabis, most notably CBD for both health purposes and a way to help lessen some of the physical damage their bodies sustain during game time on the ice.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid in an interview with the Associated Press said, “you don’t want to be taking pain stuff and taking Advil all the time”. “You’re seeing a lot of really smart doctors look into it. If all the boxes are checked and it’s safe and everything, then I think you would maybe want to hear them out”.
Riley Cote, former Philadelphia Flyers tough guy told Sportsnet that he used cannabis while he was a player to help deal with the stress, anxiety, and pain that came with fighting. He also mentioned that he knew of several people within the league who also used cannabis.
Cote now runs a wellness organization dedicated to treating past and present athletes, and he says that CBD products could be used as a tool for treatment. Cote says “it’s about helping these guys wake up the next morning so they can feel functional enough, good enough, and they can enjoy their families and not worry about the pain and anxiety and that vicious cycle that usually leads to mental health issues”.
Another former NHL player now turned executive anonymously told Sportsnet that he figures about 60 – 70 percent of current players use cannabis, which he said could be contributed to a better understanding and acceptance of the substance in the league’s future.
Even though the stigma for players and executives to come out in support of, or admit the use of CBD still exists, the league has taken a step forward in at least researching the product. In March, the NHL Alumni Association announced it was partnering with Canopy Growth on a clinical study on how CBD could treat post-concussion neurological issues.
Even though the long-term effects of CBD use haven’t been fully studied yet, the clinical study will research the value of cannabis on post-concussion symptoms like PTSD and depression using a group of about 100 former NHL payers. According to former player and head of the Alumni Association Glenn Healy, “now at least, we’re going down the road of being the first sports entity to look at it, we give a shit and we are going to get some answers”.
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