BIG3 first U.S. professional sports league to allow cannabidiol (CBD) use for 'pain management and recovery'

Daniel Popper

BIG3 is leading the charge on marijuana-based medicine in sports.

The professional three-on-three basketball league announced Wedneday it is allowing cannabidiol — or CBD — for the 2018 season, which began last week in Houston. BIG3 now becomes the first professional sports league in the U.S. to permit CBD use.

“The BIG3 is uniquely positioned in professional sports as a player-powered league that looks at our players as partners not property,” BIG3 Co-Founder & Co-CEO Jeff Kwatinetz said in a release. “As a testament to our relationship with our players, we listened to their feedback on CBD, as well as feedback from professionals in the regulatory and CBD industry, and decided to take this major step to support their health.”

CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in marijuana and has been medically proven to improve pain, limit muscle tightness and hinder psychotic symptoms like anxiety. In the release, the league said it is allowing “access to CBD for use in pain management and recovery.”

CBD was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substances list earlier this year. More than half of the states in America allow medical marijuana — which is separate from CBD — and several states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, have legalized weed for recreational use.

In recent years, former and current NFL players have called for the legalization of marijuana in their league. NFL players have abused pain-relieving opioids and anti-inflammatory drugs like Toradol for decades, and many believe CBD, which isn’t addictive, would offer a healthier, less-damaging alternative for the dealing with the pain inherent to the sport.

Former Giants defensive end Leonard Marshall uses CBD daily to cope with symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the degenerative brain disease linked with repeated trauma to the head. Marshall shared his story with the Daily News in 2016 as part of a three-part series on weed and sports.

"My quality of life has improved because of this,” Marshall said, referring to his CBD use.