Does weed make you a better athlete? There has seemingly always been a disconnect between athlete’s cannabis use and professional sporting leagues that ban them from consuming weed. It has long been considered an illicit substance, despite a plethora of positive effects—especially in helping athletes manage pain.
More and more, athletes are coming forward to advocate for cannabis in sports, but so far, no change has come to fruition. Not only is cannabis an effective pain medication, but it can also arguably make you a better athlete as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways weed can help professional athletes, rather than impede them. By the end, we’ll answer the question: Does weed make you a better athlete?
Cannabis in Sports: Does Weed Make You a Better Athlete?
Athletes smoke weed. There’s no way of stopping them. Even with random drug testing and suspensions, they can find their way around it.
For example, former NBA player Jay Williams estimated that 75-80 percent of NBA athletes smoke weed. He brought up the point that even though the league will hand out opioid-based painkillers like candy, weed is still looked at in a positive light.
But that wasn’t the only point he brought up. He also shed light on how, mentally, cannabis can alleviate some of the stress athletes face on a daily basis.
“When you talk about guys playing at a professional level, there’s a lot of physical and mental stress that comes with that,” he said. “To have something available to you that has health benefits, I don’t see the issue with it myself.”
So much in sports have to do with having a mental edge on your opponent. If cannabis-use can help, why shouldn’t it be allowed? It’s not like it’s steroids (another epidemic in pro sports) that enhance you physically.
It’s something that can help athletes with the mental aspect of the game. Especially considering the mental disorders linked to contact sports, weed could not only help the longevity of their playing careers but their lives in general.
Weed as Medicine
Perhaps weed’s best use in sports is an effective alternative to opioid painkillers. Former NFL Offensive Lineman Eben Britton is one of the biggest advocates for the use of medicinal cannabis in the NFL.
“Cannabis is the perfect medicine for athletes,” Britton told Bleacher Report. “This is not some back-alley street drug; it’s a medicinal herb that provides the only potential solution to both concussions/CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and the opiate epidemic.”
Also, Britton estimates that half the NFL smokes weed. There’s only one random drug test a year, so whenever that occurs, players are good to go. Although the NFL, as well as other leagues, think they are stopping athletes from smoking, it’s just not the case.
Most athletes prefer it to the use of painkillers, which make them feel much more lethargic. Additionally, opiates are far more addicting than cannabis. If a player smokes weed post-game, there clearly isn’t an innate fear of becoming reliant upon it.
Studies on CTE in NFL players are especially disturbing. A recent report found that out of 111 tested NFL players, 110 contained traces of the neurological disease. Additionally, the disease was rampant in athletes who played in lower levels of football. Of the 202 players who had their brains tested, 87 percent had CTE.
Britton claims weed is a large part of his daily routine to protect himself from the dangers of CTE. Research has proven that CBD has neuroprotective qualities that can help against degenerative brain disorders such as CTE.
Britton claims that the former players who have smoked weed will be in better shape physically and mentally than those who didn’t.
“The guys who consume cannabis through their football careers are going to be in much better shape coming out of them than the guys that don’t,” he said.
Weed Can Help Athletes Train
Other than the medicinal qualities and effects on a players’ overall mental psyche, does weed make you a better athlete, physically speaking? Some strains are known to have stimulating qualities, so could they help athletes focus?
In a piece by Men’s Fitness, a former Division I soccer player named Cliff claims cannabis helps him train. “I’m locked in,” he said. “My mind is always all over the place; I can get caught up in what’s going on around me. Weed helps me keep my mind focused if you can imagine that.”
Weed has been proven to be a healthier alternative to ADHD medications such as Adderal. So technically, it could help athletes hone in on their skills more effectively.
Final Hit: Does Weed Make You a Better Athlete?
There’s a solid amount of evidence to suggest that weed can help you become a better athlete. While it’s still up for debate whether or not it can serve as a performance enhancer, it has proven time and time again that it’s other effective uses in sports.
Whether it’s a pain medication, a neuroprotectant, or an anti-depressant, weed most certainly has its place in sports. All things considered, it’s magical powers can help make you a better athlete, in more ways than one.