Marijuana use in the world of sports


The use of marijuana, or cannabis, among athletes has become a prominent subject as its legalisation and decriminalisation spread worldwide. Athletes from various sports have been increasingly open about their marijuana use, citing reasons like pain management, relaxation, and recreational purposes. This report delves into the current situation of marijuana use among athletes, exploring its potential benefits, risks, and the evolving attitudes and policies in the sporting community.

Marijuana and athletic performance

The impact of marijuana on athletic performance remains a contentious topic, with varying opinions and ongoing research. Some athletes claim it helps them relax, focus and reduce anxiety, while others argue it can impair cognitive abilities, motor skills, and reaction times – all crucial in sports. The effects of marijuana can differ based on factors – such as dosage, frequency of use, and individual tolerance.

Pain management and injury recovery

A primary reason athletes use marijuana is for pain management and injury recovery. The active compounds in marijuana, called cannabinoids, have shown analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Some athletes, particularly in high-impact sports, opt for marijuana as an alternative to traditional painkillers, which may come with the risk of addiction and side effects.

Mental health and well-being

In recent times, there’s been a growing awareness of mental health in sports. Athletes face immense pressure to perform, leading some to use marijuana as a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges during their careers.

Doping regulations and policy changes

Marijuana has long been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances; and athletes testing positive for THC, its main psychoactive component, may face sanctions. However, perceptions are changing, and some argue that its inclusion on the banned substances list isn’t entirely justified, particularly considering its legal status in some regions. This has led to calls for revisions to doping regulations, as seen in the USADA’s 2022 decision to increase the threshold for a positive THC test, allowing athletes a higher margin before penalties.

Legalisation and social acceptance

The legalisation and decriminalisation of marijuana in various countries and states have contributed to its increased social acceptance, including among athletes. As attitudes shift, many athletes have become more open about their marijuana use, sharing their experiences and advocating for more lenient policies.

Challenges and responsibilities

Despite changing attitudes and policies, the use of marijuana among athletes presents complex challenges. Striking a balance between personal choices and maintaining fair competition is a dilemma for sports organisations and governing bodies. It requires a nuanced approach to ensure athletes’ safety and well-being while respecting their individual freedoms.


Marijuana use among athletes remains a topic of significant interest and debate. While some athletes highlight its potential benefits for pain management and mental health, concerns about its impact on performance and doping regulations persist.

As research progresses and societal attitudes evolve, sports organisations will likely face increasing pressure to reevaluate their policies toward marijuana use. Ultimately, finding a balance between promoting fair competition and prioritising athletes’ health and well-being will be essential in navigating this issue in modern sports.

>>>the writer is a talented and passionate individual who has excelled in various fields throughout his life. He has developed a deep appreciation for his culture and heritage, which has heavily influenced his personal and professional endeavours. He is currently pursuing a degree course in Journalism at the University of Media Arts and Communication (UniMAC-GIJ). He can be reached via [email protected]

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