There’s almost no data on how the cannabis extract works in humans, but the sports world is embracing it anyway.
In his eight seasons in the National Hockey League, Riley Cote estimates he got into hundreds of fistfights. Cote was an enforcer—a tough guy whose job was to keep the other team’s players in check. If an opponent got too physical on the ice, Cote would put him in line.
He retired in 2010, having sustained repeated trauma to his brain and body. Cote suffered from chronic pain, and worried what might happen to his battered mind as he aged. Then in 2013, he tried cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. “It’s been a game changer for sure,” Cote says. Now he reports he uses it at least twice a day.
In the wake of the opioid crisis and with a growing body of evidence showing the dangers of repeated brain injuries, cannabis and its extract cannabidiol have come to seem like promising wonder drugs that can reduce dependence on opioids. In 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of banned substances. That same year, former National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern said the league should change its policies to allow players to use medical marijuana. And this year, the National Football League Players’ Association partnered with the NFL to study marijuana and CBD as alternatives to other pain therapies, namely opioids.