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All-Star Medicine: How Cannabis Interacts With The Sporting World

By Corey Morrill

February 17, 2023

With All-Star weekend being hosted in Salt Lake City this year, we thought it would be a good time to shine a spotlight on how medical cannabis is often used to treat and manage sports related injuries.

Between athletes like Britney Griner and Sha’Carri Richardson, cannabis for sports recovery and sports injuries has had a fair bit of discussion in recent years. The NBA has now gone three seasons without testing its players for cannabis consumption. The MLB has actively allowed for the endorsement of CBD products. Although the World Anti-Doping Association still considers cannabis to be “against the spirit of sports”, it’s clear that attitudes in the United States at least are changing.

“Most of us start being active in sports at an early age,” says Lead Pharmacist at Dragonfly, Kevin Baumgartner, “some continue through childhood to play the games we learned to love and excel in. Some of us never learn to stop pushing and with that push comes a toll on our bodies.”

The number one qualifying condition for medical cannabis in the state of Utah is chronic pain according to data obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services. Knee and ankle injuries are the most common sports-related injuries according to which analyzed over a decade of insurance claims regarding such injuries. So it only stands to reason that many Utah patients are medicating for chronic pain related to past athletics.

“Many people fall into the horrible cycle of chronic pain medications to treat injuries that happened years ago, or yesterday”, says Kevin. “As we understand more and more the benefits of using cannabis to treat pain and injuries the conversation turns to using safer, better, and more sustainable medication than traditional treatments.”

When we consume cannabis, THC and CBD interact with our endocannabinoid system or ECS, which is what soothes pain and reduces inflammation that can commonly be caused by sports injuries. This same process can help our bodies recover after periods of strong exertion, reducing the likelihood of obtaining such injuries in the first place. It’s no wonder then, that athletes like Calvin Johnson, who started his own cannabis brand Primitiv, would look to cannabis as a solution to the problem of sports related injuries.

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