Many in the athletic community have touted the benefits of medical marijuana for some time. And this isn’t just a few uninformed people talking about pot for pain—medical studies have proven the usefulness of cannabis in the medical and sporting realms for pain management.
Pot Over Painkillers: Is There an Advantage?
Today, states that have legalized marijuana to manage chronic pain have experienced significantly lower prescription painkiller overdose deaths per year. In fact, researchers examining medical marijuana laws, death certificates, and other relevant information across all 50 states from 1999 to 2010 have found a significant correlation between medical marijuana and reduced overdoses from painkillers.
States carrying a medical marijuana law, a JAMA Internal Medicine report reveals, have a 25 percent lower number of prescription painkiller overdoses and deaths compared to states that don’t.
Managing pain is something athletes have to deal with on a regular basis. Providing them with an alternative to an addictive drug that can cause an overdose should be an option.
Medical Marijuana in the World of Athletics
Because of marijuana’s less addictive quality over prescription painkillers, many athletes have used the drug to overcome sports-related injuries. Former National Football League player Nate Jackson, for example, utilized medical marijuana to manage pain and sports-related injuries. Jay Williams, a former NBA player, has given impassioned statements about the use of marijuana for pain treatment. Unfortunately, major American sports leagues prohibit cannabis use while research increasingly reveals its potential benefits to sports medicine.
Similarly, wrestler Rob Van Dam has promoted medical marijuana usage as a way to help decrease anxiety. While some ingesting medical marijuana may experience feelings of paranoia and anxiety, others have acknowledged marijuana’s role as an anxiety-decreasing drug. A 2006 British Journal of Sports Medicine article examined THC from an athletics standpoint, showing its usefulness in boosting relaxation.
Sporting Injuries and Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana can indeed be a viable, all-natural painkiller in the sporting world. While prolonged use may adversely impact stamina and breath capacity, reports reflect several positive outcomes of medical marijuana consumption.
As more states pass laws granting individuals the use of medical marijuana, more studies reveal its effectiveness in treating headaches, nerve pain, and glaucoma. Additionally, athletes not responding to—or unable to tolerate—pharmaceutical pain relievers may find solace in medical marijuana. Doctors may wish to prescribe medical marijuana to athletes suffering from muscle spasms generated through multiple sclerosis, too.
Poor appetite and weight loss caused by sports-induced nerve pain and chronic pain may also be remedied by medical marijuana. As with any medication, medical marijuana should be dosed appropriately and prescribed by a licensed doctor.
Sports Organizations and Medical Marijuana
Cannabis exists on the list of prohibited substances for many different sports. Many sports will disqualify athletes or suspend them if a test comes back positive for THC.The World Anti‐Doping Agency’s laboratories makes it a priority to test for THC, even though study after study continues to show how beneficial it is for athletes.
While quite a lot is currently known about cannabis and its uses in the sporting world, sports organizations have yet to actively promote its use as a drug for athletic injuries. That said, many states have taken great lengths to secure the use of medical marijuana for those suffering prolonged injuries.
Athletes that have dedicated their life to a sport deserve better options than addictive painkillers, and many experts believe medical marijuana’s adoption can alleviate their pain. As research continues to promote the benefits of medical marijuana, the sporting agencies across the world will hopefully recognize medical marijuana as a valid method of pain relief.