One factor pushing the popularity of Hemp is celebrity endorsements and some came in just in time for the start of the NFL’s 100th season. Retired pro football player, Rob Gronkowski, is voicing his support for the hemp-derived cannabinoid. The former Super Bowl champion is advocating for the NFL and other sports leagues to allow the use of CBD, which he says is helping him enjoy life again now that his health is improved. Whether a player finds that a Hemp edible or Hemp oil works best for them, there are plenty of options out there.
He wants his former teammates and all athletes to have similar experiences without having to worry about their status in professional sports. In Massachusetts, where his former team plays, all cannabis products are legal for anyone over 21. However, pro football players answer to a higher authority, The National Football League. As of the start of the season, the league still isn’t budging about its stance on all cannabis or hemp products.
Many players have been fined and even lost their careers for testing positive for the plant, which is illegal federally. Recent changes in the federal government’s classification of hemp-derived products could change. In late December 2018, President Trump signed the updated the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the cultivation of hemp. Both the FDA and DEA have clarified that Hemp is legal and doesn’t require a doctor’s recommendation. Additionally, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has approved the use of Hemp by athletes in or out of competition at the start of the 2018 season. WADA governs the drug-testing rules for the Olympics and most professional sports organizations around the world follow their standards. Director General Olivier Niggli explains why the agency made the change.
Annually, the Prohibited List review involves a very extensive stakeholder consultation process over the course of nine months. In reviewing the List, experts examine such sources as scientific and medical research; trends; and, intelligence gathered from law enforcement and pharmaceutical companies in order to stay ahead of those that endeavor to cheat the system.
Advocates like Gronk are hoping the move by the international agency pushes the NFL and other sports organizations to allow players to use CBD-based products. Gronk’s not alone in this push. Other former pro athletes are looking for more significant concessions from the sports associations—They want full access to medical cannabis for players. The legendary Joe Montana also advocates for Hemp along with former Miami Dolphin’s running back Ricky Williams, whose career was ended because of positive drug tests for cannabis, is also opening his own business and advocating for athletes.
Many of these changes are being held up by the federal government. As long as cannabis is illegal federally, businesses, especially ones that do work across state lines, have their hands tied. Now that the DEA is expanding cannabis research, professional NFL athletes may get legal access to these products in the next few years as advocates around the country push for full legalization.
Learn more about WADA's list of prohibited substances.