Athletes use all sorts of weird and wonderful methods to enhance their athletic performance. Extremely hot saunas, extremely frigid ice baths, unusual eating schedules, supplements and performance-enhancing drugs (both legal and illegal) are just a few of these methods. Can medical marijuana also be used in a way that will improve performance in certain sports? It seems so.
Cannabis is a banned substance according to the World Doping Agency. Still, rumors abound that certain big name athletes have used medical cannabis to improve their performance. Many sporting superstars have spoken out about using weed to calm their minds, heal their bodies and improve their game.
MMJ and Athletes
Stephen Jackson, who played in the NBA from 2000-2015 with the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers, has talked about occasionally using marijuana before and during NBA games.
“I just gotta be real, you know it’s been a couple games where I smoked before games and had great games, it’s been some games where I smoked before the game and was on the bench after three minutes sitting on the sideline, ‘Please calm down. This high has to calm down.’ I done shot three shots that went over the backboard, like, I’m going to be honest, like, ‘Ah, I gotta calm down.’”
Former Chicago Bulls point guard Jay Williams told Fox that he reckons 75-80% of NBA players use medical marijuana – with little concern for drug tests.
Arnold Schwarzenegger famously smoked weed in the cult bodybuilding movie ‘Pumping Iron’ after winning the Mr. Olympia title. Was this merely a celebratory joint, or was he using MMJ for its recovery inducing properties?
UFC fighter Nick Diaz was banned for 18 months when he tested positive for marijuana use. He said, “If I’m at home and I’m training, doing my same things every day, then I’m definitely going to want to use cannabis. It’s gonna help.”
Famous podcaster, UFC commentator and ace Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Joe Rogan has, on numerous occasions, said he smokes before he plays BJJ and it improves his game considerably.
Professional ultramarathon runner Avery Collins has said he often uses medical marijuana during his ultramarathons (however, not during official events). Speaking to the Wall Street Journal he said, “If you can find the right level, [medical cannabis] takes the stress out of running,” “And it’s a post-race, post-run remedy.”
So plenty of big name athletes swear by medical weed’s effectiveness. But why might it be a good reason to improve sports performance?
Medical Marijuana and Sports Performance Benefits
One benefit of having a medical cannabis card is that MMJ can increase mental focus. This can mean an athlete is less prone to distraction and more acutely focused on the task at hand – playing their sport to the best of their ability. Marijuana can get rid of irrelevant thoughts and mental white noise.
Using your California medical marijuana card induces feelings of relaxation. This can be beneficial when an athlete is performing, as it can get rid of stiffness and stifledness brought on by mental or physical tension. It can also help after a performance when an athlete needs to relax as thoroughly as possible in order to recuperate.
CBD-heavy indica strains of medical cannabis can be useful sleep-aids. This can be hugely helpful for an athlete both in the run up to a performance, where getting adequate rest is crucial, and after a performance, when sleep is needed to allow the body to heal and recuperate.
California medical marijuana card use can reduce anxiety, and this can be invaluable to an athlete who is prone to getting nervous before a performance. Anxiety can be a big hinderance to an athlete and if medical cannabis can alleviate this anxiety, an athlete is freed up to perform at their very best.
Medical marijuana use is known to loosen tight muscles, which is very helpful for athletes, particularly after a hard game, race or fight when muscles have been used to the max and need to loosen, rest and heal.
The fact that cannabis increases appetite is very valuable to athletes who need to put on a lot of muscle. Bodybuilders and fighters in particular go through periods when eating a lot of calories is crucial – medical herb can help with this.
MMJ and Sports Performance Downside
There are also a few downsides for athletes using MMJ, such as it can increase heart rate, which can lead to him or her becoming fatigued more quickly that they would otherwise.
California marijuana card use can lead to impaired memory. This can lead to soccer players forgetting what direction they are supposed to be shooting, and even boxers entering the ring with no shorts on!
Medical cannabis cards can lower reaction time, which is obviously not ideal if you are involved in a fast sport such as tennis, basketball or skiing.
Smoking cannabis can damage lung capacity, which will decrease cardiovascular health.
So the jury is out, but there are certainly some positive signs that MMJ can really help with athletic performance. If you are a professional athlete, beware that cannabis is a banned substance, but if you are an amateur, then maybe give it a try and see for yourself how your performance is affected.