Riley Cote, Elias Theodorou, Nate Diaz, Boo Williams, and many other athletes have spoken out regarding the efficiency of cannabis and its ability to help them with many different ailments. One question that many people have regarding the effects of cannabis consumption on athletes is, does it improve their athletic performance?
Cannabis activates endocannabinoid receptors which in return produces feelings of euphoria in many athletes. It has been compared to the same effects that are felt from what is known as a runner’s high. While this aspect of cannabis consumption may lead to a more pleasurable experience for athletes, it doesn’t enhance their performance.
The substantial physical toll that athletes endure from participating in extreme sports has left many of them with significant inflammation and pain. Additionally, many suffer from mental anguish due to their physical recovery. While athletes are finding great relief in cannabis, this still does not indicate that cannabis is a performance-enhancing drug.
So, what aspects of cannabis consumption could lead to performance benefits for athletes?
Cannabis increases focus. For a fighter, this may help them dodge a right hook coming their way. A surfer may experience an improved sense of balance while riding that mega wave.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University have concluded that cannabis consumption can suppress psychological responses that are associated with anxiety. Therefore, it is possible that cannabis could help athletes overcome anxious feelings whether it be before, during, or after competitions. With this anxiety out the door, their overall performance would most likely improve.
Extreme sports alone have shown to activate endocannabinoid receptors in the brain resulting in increased neuronal growth. This increase in neural growth and the inhibiting of brain cell growth leads to a superb endorphin rush. With endorphins running high, many athletes would experience increased pain tolerance and an increased level of endurance which would be an obvious performance enhancer.
So is cannabis a performance-enhancing drug? It all depends on what you believe to be considered “performance enhancing”. Yes, cannabis can provide relief for many ailments, but many would argue that these advantages would not be deemed to be enough to classify cannabis as a performance-enhancing drug.