This past June, UFC officials held a press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dana White, President of the UFC, formally announced that the UFC has clinched a contract agreement with Canadian CBD company Aurora Cannabis. The recent alliance of the two industries is the start of an eight-year professional partnership. The cannabis company is a prominent marketer of wellness-based products in Canada, including CBD and THC softgels, oils, and milled decarbs (though they’ve yet to offer CBD drinks).
At the conference, White spoke openly about the personal benefits he’d experienced from his use of CBD oil during a strenuous recovery from shoulder surgery. “When I did it, I didn’t take any pain pills. I’d rather do that than pain pills. If this is a viable option, and the research is out there that this can help athletes – or any human being that’s in pain, I believe this is the future. And you know us, we’re always the first to dive in and figure it out.”
Policy changes have already been unfolding at a rapid rate in our recent history, both within the United States and abroad. In 2018, Canada became the second nation on the planet to Federally legalize the recreational or medical use of all cannabis-based products. This was a groundbreaking step forward, and allowed Canada them to lead the industry in exciting opportunities for Federally-funded research on all types of cannabinoids – even THC, which the United States has yet to Federally approve.
More than two-thirds of the United States have now decriminalized or legalized cannabis use to some degree at the state level – whether medical to recreational. The cultivation, sale, and use of hemp have all been recently approved with the 2018 Farm Bill, which was passed last November by the United States Senate Agricultural Committee. Employers and major industries in the United States may still limit cannabis use amongst their employees – especially due to the disparity between Federal and State legal standards for some forms of cannabinoids.
Professional athletes across the world once risked their careers by using any type of cannabinoid, including non-intoxicating varieties intended for pain relief. However, just last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency lifted its ban on hemp-based cannabidiol. With industry-wide changes so recent in the UFC’s history, plans for an ongoing partnership between the UFC and Aurora Cannabis are a tremendous leap forward for recreational cannabis lovers, chronic pain sufferers and industry leaders alike.
“It’s the future,” emphasized White. “This is the future.”
Through the recently confirmed eight-year partnership of the UFC and Aurora Cannabis, both organizations hope to collaboratively explore the scientific benefits of CBD and its efficacy as a treatment for pain relief. It’s hard to imagine a group more familiar with pain than those who physically fight for a living, so word of the partnership is a promising step forward for advocates of CBD. In fact, the eight-year partnership has the potential to produce the most in-depth, long-term scientific and medical examination of CBD to ever occur in history. Better yet, it may offer a viable alternative for fighters who wish to abstain from addictive pharmaceutical painkillers.
UFC President White isn’t the only high-ranking representative who’s vocalized his support of their partnership with Aurora Cannabis. Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance, is also down for the count. At the press conference last June, Novitzky spoke to the promise of the partnership. “Our athletes are using CBD in lieu of opioids, things like Xanax, or sleeping aids like Ambien. Certainly, from a common-sense point of view, a synthetic drug versus chemical compound from a plant is probably going to be a lot healthier and safer for you. Anecdotally - and that’s why we’re doing the scientific research - but anecdotally, the feedback’s been really positive.”
He also sought to dispel concerns that intoxication would affect athletic performance – by clarifying the distinction between the hemp-based CBD that the study will include and THC, the most commonly known cannabinoid. “THC in the cannabis plant is what impairs you. It’s what gets the individual high who consumed it…[what we’ll be studying] literally has no THC in it. Only CBD.”
The use of any type of cannabinoid has received serious stigma in recent decades by many organizations. Critics of CBD’s popularity have overwhelmingly based their concerns on the limited research done by reputable scientific sources to date. However, the opportunities for widespread and Federally-funded research studies have paradoxically been limited by the very restrictions they may help to overturn – which are based on a lack of information rather than any proven detriment. In fact, studies that have been conducted on CBD to date have overwhelmingly yielded encouraging results, as have anecdotal testimonies of users worldwide. This outpouring of anecdotal support has helped to remove undue stigma and misinformation surrounding non-intoxicating forms of cannabis. This, in turn, has increased the public demand for expanded research of the substances – and if studies reflect the positive reports of countless advocates, for CBD and hemp-related policy changes to follow suit.
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