There are many stereotypes of cannabis users being lazy and couch locked, but more and more athletes are discovering that cannabis use not only doesn’t inhibit their performance, it can benefit it. Avery Collins is an ultra-marathon runner from Colorado who has found that cannabis is a perfect supplement for his running.
Collins describes his first experience of using cannabis before a run, “It was amazing. It helps me stay in the moment and embrace what’s going on right then and there.” Eating edibles before and during a run gives him a positive benefit. “For me, it’s a spiritual happening. Everything is perfect, everything is pure bliss,” Collins said.
He does admit that he never uses cannabis in an actual competition, as it is labeled a performance enhancing drug by the World Anti-Doping Agency, as well as most sanctioned sporting events in the U.S. This takes us to the question, does cannabis use really improve sports performance? UFC commentator Joe Rogan says that it does. “I think it (marijuana) is a performance-enhancing drug. If it wasn’t, a huge majority of jiu-jitsu guys wouldn’t be using it before they train. A lot of Brazilian guys use marijuana before they train. A lot of American jiu-jitsu guys use it before they train. And they don’t do it because it hurts them; they do it because it helps them,” says Rogan.
Rogan, who is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a regular cannabis user, says that marijuana actually should be allowed, at least in the sport of MMA. He says that “I think if testosterone is legal, you can easily make the argument that marijuana should be legal under a doctor’s prescription. I do believe that they’re both performance-enhancing substances. I think that testosterone is, in fact, more of a performance-enhancer.”
There have been a few high profile cases of athletes failing the drug test and facing consequences in their sport. Boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. tested positive for cannabis after losing a title fight to the former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, and received close to a million dollar fine and a 9-month suspension. UFC fighter Nick Diaz, who has a medical license in California, has had a similar fine and suspension after testing positive as well.
Joe Rogan also mentioned last year that the majority of UFC fighters do smoke cannabis. “That’s also the weird thing about martial arts. A tremendous amount of UFC fighters smoke pot. I mean, a massive amount where it’s a huge issue with them involving drug tests, you know, where they have to stop smoking weed for the last four weeks or so in order to pass drug tests. More UFC fighters smoke pot than don’t smoke pot.”
Even though the use of cannabis while training is a trend for many athletes, it is unlikely the sporting commissions will change their stance on the substance any time soon.