The BIG3 now allows its player to use CBD, its co-founder said on Wednesday, adding that the decision is effective immediately.
The BIG3, a 3-on-3 basketball league, featuring mostly retired National Basketball Association (NBA) players, said it will allow its players to use cannabidiol or CBD for both pain treatment and for recovery.
“The BIG3 is uniquely positioned in professional sports as a player-powered league that looks at our players as partners, not property,” BIG3 co-founder and co-CEO Jeff Kwatinetz said in a statement.
Kwatinetz decided to “take this major step” after “listening” to BIG3 players’ “feedback on CBD” as well as input from “professionals in the regulatory and CBD industry.”
1st pro sports league to allow CBD
Taking this big leap is making the BIG3, which is in the second week of a 10-week season, the first pro sports league in the United States to allow its athletes to use CBD for pain treatment and recovery.
The league also backed its stance by mentioning that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has removed CBD from its list of banned substances earlier this year. The World Cup this year was the first of its kind allowing CBD use, following WADA’s change of hearts.
Kwatinetz described his move as a “no-brainer decision.”
“This is a medical decision. It is a medical and a humane decision,” he said.
“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.”
Some athletes in the United States especially NFL players suffer from opioid dependency, explaining the rising calls from these players to legalize medical marijuana.
The journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence published a study in 2011, revealing that more than 52 percent of former NFL players reported using opioids during their career, and 71 percent of those players reported misusing opioids.
In April, Mike James, currently a free agent, made history when he asked the NFL for a therapeutic-use exemption on marijuana to mitigate his pain.
But his hopes were dashed when the NFL snubbed his request.
Heeding their calls, Kwatinetz repeatedly described CBD as a less dangerous alternative when it comes to pain management. He said the league, which was also co-founded by Ice Cube, has been discussing this decision for “at least six months.”
“All the players we talked to have been either supportive or use it,” Kwatinetz said.
“Not everyone uses it or wants to use it, but they are supportive of the right to use it. It’s a safe medicine that addresses pain.”
“Hopefully us doing this for our players will also send a message out there that we need to make decisions not based on politics but based on medical data and actually treat each other humanely.”
Al Harrington, who plays for Trilogy in the BIG3 after his 16-year NBA career, said: “This league was enlightened enough to allow” CBD use.
Harrington, who suffered a severe knee injury in 2012, now has a cannabis business.
“I have not taken a pharmaceutical or anti-inflammatory pain pill since [surgery],” he told CBS about his knee surgery. “Ever since that happened — and I’ve had three surgeries since then — I managed all of my pain through cannabis.”
All of the NFL, NBA and MLB prohibit the use of CBD in their league bylaws.
However, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last year that the league would review the issue in greater detail.