Cannabis for Athletes

The recent suspension of U.S track star Sha ‘Carri Richardson for testing positive for cannabis has ignited a firestorm.  If you do not know about Sha ‘Carri, she specializes in the 100m sprint, and ran one of the fastest times ever in the US Olympics trials last month. She was disqualified from participating in Tokyo after testing positive for Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

Those more familiar with cannabis will know this is the cannabinoid responsible for the “high” and is on the banned substance list for WADA, despite the recognition it is not performance enhancing. While THC for non-medicinal purposes remains illegal in the UK and Europe, it is legal in many U.S. states.  Sha ‘Carri admitted to using cannabis to help deal with anxiety and depression following the death of her biological mother. It is sad, we will not get to see her athletic talent at this year’s Olympics, but at the age of 21, she has a bright future ahead of her. We wish her all the best.

We often get questions about the legality of cannabis/hemp in the U.K. So, we thought it would be appropriate to go through some of the most asked questions from our customers.

Is cannabis use illegal for athletes?

The answer is it depends. The cannabis plant has over 116 different cannabinoids in the plant. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) specifically bans the use of THC. The exception is Cannabidiol (CBD), which is the only cannabinoid not prohibited for use by an athlete. WADE has recognized emerging research which identifies CBD as a natural, inflammation preventing alternative for athletes.

Does CBD oil show up on drugs tests UK?

This is a common question from our customers and athletes looking to use a CBD balm for recovery and pain relief.  If the lab is doing a cannabinoid test, CBD levels above trace will indeed show up.  This is not an issue, as hemp-derived CBD is a legal substance for use in most jurisdictions and on WADA’s approved list for athletes.

How do I ensure I do not fail a drug test if I am using CBD only?

It is important to choose the right CBD product. The safest bet would be to use a CBD isolate. This means all other cannabinoids will have be stripped out below detectable levels, and you will not fall afoul of WADA. However, in the U.K. all products must have levels of THC below 0.2%, which is well below the WADA threshold of 0.3%. As a result, all brands should be lab testing their products to ensure they are below the 0.2% threshold. At GreenBox, we require all our brands to provide and certificate of authority to ensure they meet our strict guidelines.

But what about the other cannabinoids?

WADA guidance is quite clear in that the only approved cannabinoid is CBD.  Luckily, outside of THC, most of the other cannabinoids only appear in trace amounts anyways in the plant. However, to be safe, only CBD isolate oil should be used, so as not to risk failing a drug test based on one of the other cannabinoids.

Which products does GreenBox sell which use CBD isolates?

Vitality use CBD isolates in all their products. As a result. they are safe for in competition athletes to use as part of their routines.