Capitalizing on CBD: New market opportunities with athletes

(This is an abridged version of a story that appears in the September issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)

Athletes have long used cannabis products to fight inflammation and recover from injury, but drug-testing rules and marijuana stigma have often kept it a locker-room secret.

That’s all changing now, thanks to CBD.

The cannabinoid has given athletes the ability to tap into the healing properties of cannabis without the intoxicating effects.

CBD got an even bigger boost among athletes in January, when the World Anti-Doping Agency removed cannabidiol from its list of banned substances.

The change freed athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea to use CBD and has prompted a surge in products aimed at athletes.

Now, producers are using new marketing strategies to position their products as healthy choices for professional athletes and weekend warriors.

It requires a different strategy than marketing cannabis for a recreational or medicinal audience.

So, how do you sell CBD to this niche market?

Click here to get tips from entrepreneurs who are successfully navigating the market to sell CBD to athletes.

(This story appeared as part of a series on the CBD market. Catch up here with an overview of the CBD market and stay tuned for stories about marketing CBD to seniors, plus a look at the surge in CBD-only retailing.)

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2 comments on “Capitalizing on CBD: New market opportunities with athletes
  1. Anthony L. Almada, MSc, FISSN on

    Having worked with a wide variety of athletes, and having introduced to the market a natural product with a strong evidence base (creatine monohydrate), what remains intriguing is the enormous gap between the claims and the evidence. To date, no studies in humans have shown (with the only “CBD” that has been tested in humans, which is different from the “CBD” offered in all the products in commerce) any effect indicating performance or recovery enhancement for athletes. Indeed, in the only study done to date where (mild) exercise was evaluated while dosing with CBD (Cannabis-derived, 99% drug purity), blood flow was reduced. This would suggest a potential ergolytic (performance-reducing) effect. The anecdotes and testimonials are robust but we don’t know what is mediating these effects (is it “CBD”, and/or something else, as many products do not contain “CBD” alone?). Unfortunately, to date, no company/brand has supported and published any human studies evaluating the efficacy of its “CBD” among athletes (or other populations), relative to a sensory-matched placebo. The evidence needs to catch up with the evangelism. The world awaits…

    Reply
  2. Dr. Lowell Greib MSc, ND on

    With Bill C-45 legalizing cannabis in October in Canada and WADA removing CBD from the banned substance list, there has been a flood of athletes looking for the legal edge in their sport performance. The demand is growing like wild fire and is being fuelled by athletes making claims of personal gain and benefit – whether it be for performance or recovery. Are these claims substantiated by science? To date, the data is slim to none. As Mr. Almada alluded in a previous comment, the ONLY known study that is sport related MAY indicate and ergolytic effect. All this said, the marketing gurus in the cannabis industry have had a field day in bringing product to meet a demand founded on speculation and personal opinion. Athletes need to be cautious in their choices and be guided by science rather than sorcery.

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