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Marijuana and sport: What you need to know about the Effects

Marijuana and Sport

The use of cannabis, popularly known as marijuana, has attracted increasing interest in sports. Over the years, there have been numerous cases of professional athletes sanctioned for using cannabis, as this substance is on the list of substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, the debate on the combination of marijuana and sport is still ongoing.

Effects of Cannabis on Sports Performance

Marijuana use can have both negative effects and potential benefits in the context of sport. The effects may vary from person to person and depend on a number of factors. Potential benefits include:

Anxiety Reduction

For some athletes, especially those under high competitive pressure, cannabis can be helpful in reducing anxiety. This may allow them to face important competitions with greater composure and concentration. However, it is important to note that the anxiolytic effects of marijuana are not uniform and may not be effective for everyone.

Pain Relief

Cannabis is known to relieve chronic pain and inflammation. Some athletes with persistent injuries or discomfort may find cannabis a temporary relief, making it easier to continue training or competing more comfortably.

Sleep Improvement

It has been observed that cannabis can improve sleep quality in some people. Adequate rest is vital for recovery and athletic performance, leading some athletes to consider cannabis to improve their sleep quality.

Creativity and Focus

Some athletes report that moderate cannabis use increases their creativity and focus during training. This could be beneficial in sports that require high levels of creativity and decision-making, such as skateboarding or surfing.

It is essential to note that these potential benefits are subjective and can vary significantly. In addition, marijuana use carries risks and side effects such as loss of coordination and impaired perception, which may impair the athlete's performance and safety.

Marijuana and Sports Ethics

The use of marijuana in sport faces not only medical and performance issues, but also significant ethical dilemmas. The inclusion of marijuana on the list of banned substances by WADA and other organisations poses several challenges.

Equity and Justice

One of the main ethical dilemmas is fairness in sport. The prohibition of marijuana use in sporting competitions raises the question of whether it is fair to penalise athletes for using a substance that has varying effects on performance. Some argue that marijuana does not offer a significant competitive advantage in most sports, thus questioning its inclusion on the list of banned substances.

Regulatory Inequalities

Another important ethical issue is the unevenness of cannabis regulations in different countries and states. In some places, marijuana is legal for recreational or medical use, while in others it remains illegal. This creates a dilemma, as an athlete could be punished for using marijuana in one place where it is legal, while in another jurisdiction he or she would face no consequences.

Impact on Athletes' Personal Lives

Marijuana sanctions can significantly affect athletes' personal and professional lives. A sanction for marijuana use can lead to suspension, loss of sponsorship and reputational damage, with long-term consequences for career and well-being.

Anti-Doping Policy Review

With changing views and regulations on cannabis in many parts of the world, some advocate revising anti-doping policies in relation to marijuana. This could involve considering higher thresholds for THC detection or excluding cannabis from the list of prohibited substances in certain contexts.

Cannabis use in sport

The marijuana use among professional athletes has gained notoriety, raising questions about anti-doping policies and public perception of athletes.

The Featured Athletes Controversy

When high-profile athletes admit to marijuana use, it often generates controversy and debate. These cases highlight the differences in anti-doping regulations between different sports and organisations, as well as the public perception of athletes as role models.

Sanctions and Consequences

In some cases, athletes have been disqualified or sanctioned for testing positive for drugs due to cannabis use. This raises questions about the proportionality of sanctions and whether marijuana use should be equated with the use of performance-enhancing substances.

Pressure to Review Anti-Doping Policies

Cases of athletes using marijuana are putting pressure on sports organisations and anti-doping authorities to review their policies. In some places, changes have been implemented to reflect changing opinions and regulations on marijuana.

Legal and Public Context

The legalisation of cannabis in certain areas adds complexity to the issue. An athlete who uses marijuana in a place where it is legal may be perceived differently compared to someone who uses it in an area where it is still illegal, underlining the need for a more equitable and consistent approach.

Alternatives and Strategies for the Management of Marijuana Use in Sports

This section addresses possible solutions and approaches to managing marijuana use in sport, considering the ethical, performance and health challenges previously discussed.

Education and Awareness Raising

It is crucial to provide athletes with accurate information on the effects of marijuana on performance and health, promoting informed and responsible decisions.

Sport Specific Policies

Implement sport-specific anti-doping policies, recognising that the impact of marijuana may vary according to the type of sporting activity.

Controlled Therapeutic Use

Explore the possibility of allowing the controlled therapeutic use of marijuana by athletes who can benefit from its medicinal properties, under medical supervision and specific regulations.

Rehabilitation and Support

Offer support and rehabilitation programmes for athletes with substance abuse problems, including marijuana. These programmes can help address the underlying causes of use and provide tools for successful recovery.

Continuous Research

Encourage scientific research on the effects of marijuana on sports performance and health, helping to guide future policy and regulation in a more accurate and evidence-based manner.


In short, the relationship between marijuana and sport is complex. While some believe that marijuana may offer benefits such as anxiety reduction or pain relief, its impact on sports performance and ethical implications remain a matter of debate.

Athletes must make informed decisions, weighing risks and benefits based on their sporting situation and regulations. In addition, it is essential that anti-doping policies are constantly reviewed and debated, ensuring fairness and justice while adapting to changing views and regulations on marijuana.

Scientific research on the effects of cannabis on the performance and health of athletes must continue, providing a sound basis for future decisions. Ultimately, the management of marijuana in sport will require an ethical, equitable and constantly evolving approach.

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