Does Cannabis Boost Sports Performance?

25 November 2020
Who ever said that weed made people lazy? Use it right and you'll see how this isn't true
25 November 2020
7 min read
Does Cannabis Boost Sports Performance?

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  • 1. The legal aspect of cannabis in sports
  • 1. a. Uncertainty regarding detection
  • 2. Benefits of using cannabis in sports
  • 2. a. Cannabis for treating inflammation
  • 2. b. Marijuana for handling and relieving pain
  • 2. c. Cannabis for muscle spasms
  • 2. d. Marijuana and mental health
  • 2. e. Cannabis to regain balance
  • 3. The bottom line

Some athletes might rather avoid consuming cannabis due to the belief that it might affect their sports performance. It's understandable wanting to prevent any external factors to produce adverse effects on your personal goals when you're training hard to achieve them.

However, contrary to this common belief that cannabis consumption makes people lazy, the fact is that combining marijuana and sports is actually a good idea. Of course, we aren't suggesting that you smoke a fat joint before you head outside for a run, although if it does work for you then we aren't stopping you either.


Cannabis for boosting sports performance.

Cannabis for boosting sports performance.

What we mean is, don't let what is just society's judgment be what you actually believe for yourself. If you enjoy consuming marijuana and you'd like to know how to use it to boost your sports performance you're in the right place.

In the first place, cannabis' properties are promising in sports for:

  • Enhancing the recovery after physical activity, therefore being able to train again with a well-rested body state;
  • Relieving pain caused by intense workouts;
  • Reducing joints and muscles inflammation, and more.

Let's go through cannabis' benefits in sports.

1. The Legal Aspect of Cannabis in Sports

Things are yet to change when it comes to the legalities of cannabis and professional sports.

When back in the year 2004, the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, became responsible for establishing the list of prohibited substances and other methods in sports, they stated that marijuana's cannabinoids were to be included in the Prohibited List for all sports during competition. 1


Using CBD is allowed by WADA

Using CBD is allowed by WADA.

However, this includes over the hundreds of cannabinoids present in cannabis and cannabis products with the exception of CBD, or cannabidiol. Keeping this in mind, athletes who do use CBD for their sports performance should be aware that some CBD oils and concentrates could still contain few amounts of THC and other cannabinoids that could result in a positive test for doping. 

On the other hand, there are already some changes, for good, taking place. Per case, the NHL, USA's Basketball BIG3, and the Major League Baseball have already eased their position on the use of cannabis. 

Uncertainty Regarding Detection

One big problem about suspensions caused by cannabis detection in athletes' urine is that those who engage in regular use of THC and CBD could show positive results within 4 weeks to 3 months since their last use of the substance.

Therefore, an athlete could even be penalized without even having broken any rules. Since WADA stubbornly states that cannabis is a performance-enhancing drug (just as any healthy diet would be though) it's evident that the plant indeed provides several benefits in sports

2. Benefits of Using Cannabis in Sports

Marijuana is well-known, from a medical point of view, for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammation properties. This isn't an exception in sports either. When you use cannabis after a hard-core session you'll be indulging these benefits as well. 

Cannabis for Treating Inflammation

Firstly, many professional athletes, especially those engaging in contact sports, use marijuana to recover faster by applying cannabis-based topicals and lotions.

Joints and muscle inflammation isn't an uncommon result after a strong workout or training session. The best part is you don't even need to smoke weed to indulge its benefits, if you're concerned about your lungs' health, using CBD creams, recharging with some edibles or green weed smoothies, or just taking some drops of cannabis oil could be precisely the solution to your pain.2


Nate Diaz from UFC enjoying a joint.

UFC star Nate Diaz enjoying a joint before an open workout.

For example, the Diaz brothers, two famous MMA fighters publicly use cannabis, usually right after an intense battle, or even in conferences right before their interviewers. These guys were even faced with fines and risked getting suspended from fighting due to cannabis use, which they weren't so happy with.

In fact, this didn't stop them from speaking up. Now, the brothers continue to militate to change the way things roll: they've formed a couple of partnerships and even released a plant-based, CBD-infused nutrition company which they named GameUp.

Marijuana for Handling and Relieving Pain

When we mentioned contact sports, most likely the first thing that popped up in our heads is something involved with fist fighting, however, this isn't the only case where athletes use cannabis as an ally. 

For instance, in March 2016, the ex NFL player Eugene Monroe was the first by then active player to openly speak about his use of cannabis to treat injuries and chronic pain caused by sports. Furthermore, in May of that same year, the football player published a call to attention in the New York Times where he requested the NFL and its commissioner to stop cannabis tests on players. 


Eugene Monroe publicly demands NFL to reconsider cannabis.

Eugene Monroe publicly demands NFL to reconsider cannabis.

In said piece, the athlete stated that this substance is a safer alternative to other common prescription medications, such as opioids.3

“We now know that these drugs (opioids) are not as safe as doctors thought, causing higher rates of addiction, causing death all around our country, and we have cannabis, which is far healthier, far less addictive and, quite frankly, can be better in managing pain.”

Once Monroe retired, he dedicated his post-NFL career to promoting awareness about the health and medical benefits of marijuana. Now, he's an active member of Athletes for CARE; HealthyUnow; and Green Thumb Industries, a cannabis research, cultivation, and dispensary facility. 

Cannabis for Muscle Spasms

Another common use of cannabis for medical purposes is its capacity to treat muscle spasms on people with conditions such as Parkinson's or epilepsy. This is because the combination of its cannabinoids THC and CBD work together effectively with their anxiety relief and corporal relaxation effects to calm down seizures. 4


Treat muscle spasms from sports with cannabis.

Treat muscle spasms from sports with cannabis.

Therefore, athletes dealing with muscle spasms caused by training or a distressed muscle could well be attended with some marijuana.

Marijuana and Mental Health

Patients dealing with mental issues such as depression or anxiety are usually prescribed marijuana as an alternative and natural treatment for their condition. This is because cannabis is known for its relaxing properties, THC providing the chill state of mind, and CBD working as an anxiolytic. 

By taking small amounts of cannabis, or even microdosing it, athletes could actually boost their focus and therefore their sports performance. Besides, the consumption of weed for either sports or simply regular life has also proved to provide big stress-relieving properties. 


Stress being defined as a "state of mental or emotional strain or tension which result from adverse or demanding circumstances" is not uncommon in sports. Contrary to the belief that sports are relaxing, the fact is that part of an effective workout is pushing oneself to the limit in mind and spirit to reach newer boundaries. 


Use cannabis to calm down stress after a high intensity workout.

Use cannabis to calm down stress after a high-intensity workout.

We aren't implying that this isn't healthy, but it is indeed a form of stress, we force the body and push the mind to overcome itself, a.k.a. stress. Therefore, intaking marijuana sporadically, in small amounts before training, or as much as you'd like once you've finished, could be ideal for getting rid of the stress created by intense training sessions and getting fresh for the next one. 

All of those who have already smoked after training probably know the prize feel that smoking a joint in your sweaty outfit gives. 


Anxiety relief CBD and THC are both effective anxiolytics and focus assistants in small doses. 
Sleeping aid Cannabis is known for producing sleepiness, even more if combined with sports
Fast recovery Marijuana will enhance recovery by targeting pain and inflammation.


Besides, cannabis, as well as sports, are excellent alternatives for people with sleeping disorders, therefore, when you take some marijuana and combine it with a sportive day, we can assure that you'll be asleep as soon as you hit the pillow. Who needs sleeping pills when there is cannabis?

Cannabis to Regain Balance

One last aspect of cannabis aiding sports performance is its adaptogen quality. Adaptogens is a group of nontoxic plants and herbs that work helping the body regain its center. 

An adaptogen is what you'd need to take when you feel completely out of yourself and you're looking to calm down back to your normal self. CBD does this by binding with the endocannabinoid system and its CB1 and CB2 receptors to promote balance. 


When done right, an intense workout should have ideally brought the body way out of its comfort zone. Perhaps you've noticed yourself being clumsier when you've finished working out, or your muscles trembling due to the intensity and tiredness the training has caused. 


Relax after a sport sesh with a refreshing joint.

Relax after a sport sesh with a refreshing joint.

Well, taking some marijuana will surely aid by turning on the imbalance sensors on the body and start working towards regaining the balance. 

3. The Bottom Line

Cannabis is a full spectrum compound, it's abundant in great benefits, and the more we search the more we find. 

The world is still working to adapt and fully open its arms to cannabis, and when this day finally comes, we'll be able to get the most of the sacred plant's benefits. 

In the meantime, why not test out marijuana's benefits in sports for yourself and see how you can combine it with your routines?



  1. "The Prohibited List" World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA. 2020.
  2. "Is cannabis an effective treatment for joint pain?" Richard J. Miller and Rachel E. Miller. September 2018. 
  3. "Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioids" Charles John Gonzalez, Nicole Quackenbush, and Sharon Stancliff. July 2019.
  4. "Cannabis for the Treatment of Epilepsy: an Update" Tyler E. Gaston and Jerzy P. Szaflarski. September 2018.