Ice Cube's Big3 Allows CBD Use
Today was a good day for cannabis use in professional sports. Big3, Ice Cube's three-on-three basketball league, has officially approved CBD use for players' pain management and recovery. The only other pro league to have done this is the lesser-known NAPB (the North American Premier Basketball League).
Related: 5 Things You Should Know About CBD
The move comes after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its banned substances list in 2018.
“The BIG3 is uniquely positioned in professional sports as a player-powered league that looks at our players as partners, not property,” said Big3 co-founder and co-CEO Jeff Kwatinetz. “As a testament to our relationship with our players, we listened to their feedback on CBD, as well as feedback from professionals in the regulatory and CBD industry, and decided to take this major step to support their health.”
The Big3, which kicked off its second season last week in Houston, looks to be a pioneer in the professional sports world by adopting a more reasonable drug policy for its players.
"We always change the game," Cube told TMZ Sports. "We ahead of the game."
The move also comes just days after the FDA approved a marijuana-derived drug, Epidiolex for the first time ever. Epidiolex contains CBD, and is used in the treatment of seizures for patients with severe epilepsy. One study estimates that the CBD industry has doubled in size over the past two years and is now worth $200 million.
"This is a no-brainer decision," Kwatinetz told CBS Sports."This is a medical decision. It is a medical and a humane decision. To not allow athletes to use CBD and instead to force them to use opioids is irresponsible and perhaps even disgusting. It reflects an attitude of not caring about player health."
Will Other Leagues Follow Suit?
While Big3's decision marks an important milestone, time will tell if other professional leagues will follow suit. “It’s a very progressive move by the Big3," said Darren Heitner, a sports attorney and founder of Heitner Legal. "Certainly, it is a baby step, but they are tracking what is being done on a progressive scale from a federal standpoint on marijuana,”
Heitner says that sports leagues need to proceed cautiously, as they understand the differences between federal and state laws. While he believes that it may take some time for other leagues to permit CBD, if ever, Heitner says it's good to have an open mind towards enabling players to use cannabis.
“The vast majority of NFL players use marijuana. A lot of pro athletes, in general, use it. With more attention paid to the opioid crisis, it makes sense to have an open mind with regards to cannabis and THC related products. The risk of abuse and addiction and consequences of using THC related products as opposed to a lot of the pills that are being popped, the risks are being much more diminished with marijuana,” he said.
The Players Are On Board
One of the biggest advocates of CBD use is Al Harrington, a former Golden State Warrior who now plays in the Big3. Harrington is also the founder of Viola, a cannabis company that makes vapes and extract products.
Harrington says he was introduced to CBD after enduring what he considers was a botched knee surgery. “I've been an advocate, obviously, for a while about this." But he admits he's had some trouble over the years getting other players to see the light.
"It's taken me some time to actually convert some other athletes to this side. You know, they had their connotations or different ways that they felt about it, or information they had that was inaccurate, to the point where I was able to get them to try different products," Harrington says.
He even had former NBA commissioner, David Stern, singing CBD's praises. In an interview, Stern told Harrington that he believes marijuana should probably be removed from the league’s banned substances list.
“We've got to change the collective bargaining agreement and let you do what's legal in your state," said Stern. "I think it's up to the sports leagues to anticipate where this is going and maybe lead the way.”
Are you listening, Adam Silver?