Future of CBD in basketball: Potential benefits and considerations

The sports fraternity has had a shaky relationship with CBD, but the lines have been less blurred lately. Can NBA players now confidently indulge, and what are the impacts?

The Future of CBD in Basketball: Potential Benefits and Considerations

A few athletes have owned up to using CBD for various reasons, a move that has opened up debate on the product. The World Anti-Doping Agency – WADA – no longer classifies CBD as a prohibited product, so athletes can now use it to manage pain, sleep, anxiety, and for relaxation. This compound is the only one in the cannabis plant exempted from this list, so players have to be cautious of the labeling to avoid violating the rules. This article looks into how CBD is perceived in Basketball and why players use it.

The Benefits of CBD to Athletes

Athletes use CBD for various reasons, including managing the pain prevalent in contact and non-contact sports. Some popular consumption methods include topical application, smoking either joints of full spectrum CBD vape pens, edibles, and applying oil drops under the tongue. Vapes are easier to use than joints, and ointments are ideal for localized pain. These are some of the problems that cannabis solves.

Post-Recovery and Concussions

Concussions are common in contact sports, where one may be hit on the head accidentally or shaken vigorously. They may experience headaches, minimal dizziness, nausea, and difficulty balancing after that contact, but mild cases go away without too much medical intervention. CBD has been seen to quicken the recovery, but how it does that is still unclear. More human studies are necessary to determine how this happens.

Pain Management

CBD’s analgesic properties make it an ideal candidate for managing post-game soreness and pain. The product goes into the nervous system, where it dulls the receptors of sensitivity and pain, giving relief to a user almost immediately. Balms that work on localized pain and oral methods of cannabis delivery are preferred.

Sleep Management

Basketball is competitive, and for memorable performances, one must overreach and overwork most of the day. The body doesn’t get enough rest since they have to be up and at it and sleep late most of the time. The sleep-wake cycle is messed up so that one needs something to help him catch a few winks in the end. CBD is safer than most addictive stuff on the market, and many say it works effectively.

Working on Anxiety

If you played a high-stake game each time for over half a year, you would be anxious with each performance. It is harder on the best athletes because so much is at stake – stakeholders looking to you with each performance, contracts hinged on title prospects, and your personal goals and aspirations. Many use cannabis to ease this anxiety just before game time.

Concerns with the Use of Cannabis

One of the clearest clinical findings is with Epidiolex, a CBD product used to treat neurological issues. The doses recommended medically are typically higher, leading to a few manageable side effects like those associated with Epidiolex. Recreational users do not have to use the high doses associated with their medical counterparts, and therein lies one of the concerns with cannabis.

Dosing and Labelling

Dosing becomes an issue when a beginner doesn’t know how much is too much or when they don’t pace themselves. Mislabeling is another concern in the sports fraternity where a brand will mention the THC levels to be at 0.3% or below, but in the real sense, contain more. This leads to positive tests and disciplinary actions that could even end one’s career. We cannot emphasize enough the need to only work with brands known for their transparency and the need for athletes to consult with experts before using any CBD product. Maybe leagues could appoint brands and have experts on retainer for such consultations and discussions.

Federal Restrictions

While news on CBD has somehow cleansed its reputation, some people still see it as an addictive product that gives users an undue advantage. WADA removed it from its prohibited list in 2018, but THC and all other cannabinoids except CBD are still banned. A product that contains 0% THC may still have a few other cannabinoids on the prohibited list, making it a violation of any substance found during urine tests that basketballers take regularly.

When using a product to manage some outcome, we tend to neglect the root cause of the issue. Why does that knee pain recur, or why can’t an athlete go to sleep without any aid? If using an agent, including CBD, which has fewer adverse effects compared to pain medication, one could neglect the root of the problem to the point of unmanageability, which would lead to the loss of a career, so CBD should only be used as a band-aid solution if the concern is chronic.

Basketballers who Use CBD

Basketball demands many practice hours a day, and the seasons can be brutal. On the pitch, career-ending injuries are a real threat, so players have to find non-addictive ways to recover and deal with post-training pain or injuries. CBD has become a mainstay in the sport, especially now that strict laws are slowly being lifted to allow pure CBD or products within the recommended THC threshold.

Klay Thompson

Since the stigma in CBD is lifting, and sports personalities are finally making their stand known, Klay Thompson launched a CBD brand, Just Live, alongside footballer Alex Morgan and motorsports star Travis Pastrana. Renowned skateboarder Paul Rodriguez also joined the three for the brand and made it known that he uses CBD for relaxation and post-work recovery. At the launch, Thomson hailed the benefits of CBD, such as relaxation, sleep management, and pain relief, and said the products were much gentler than the commercial options most athletes used. Just Live deals in tinctures, topicals, supplements, and gummies, among other CBD products.

Al Harrington

Harrington’s super successful basketball career has had some highs and lows, including reaching the playoffs 7 times in his 16 seasons of balling and the low occasioned by a knee injury. He prefers CBD for pain management and has advocated for CBD products loudly since 2011. He has two companies that deal in CBD products for athletes.

Other ex-basketball players who have actively supported CBD include Lamar Odom, Richard Francis Dennis Barry III, Jamal Mashburn, and Paul Pierce. They mainly started using these products after injuries on the pitch, and apart from pain management, they all agree that cannabis helped them in areas they didn’t think were problematic. Odom says the products improved the quality of his life by helping him deal with post-ball stressors, while the rest cite insomnia as a problem they didn’t even realize they had.


Pain management is a discussion that will always be had in sports since athletes are naturally exposed to injury. Players have become addicted to painkillers and even lost entire careers to addiction, so a product that is not so prone to abuse is a relief. Basketball tests players for cannabis, but CBD is allowed in the sport if it is within the set THC parameters – 0.3%. Players are still skeptical of cannabis as it is still associated with stigma in most parts of the world, but some respected ballers are coming out and admitting they use it to manage pain, recover, or manage their anxiety, which is excellent for the brand.

Tia Moskalenko is dedicated to telling truths, so her work at AskGrowers heavily focuses on interviews with industry experts and stakeholders, including farmers, for representative narratives. Her work is published at Ganjapreneur and Detroit Metro Times, among other respected media spaces.