On Oct. 17, 2018, cannabis for recreational purposes became legal across the country. As the use of cannabis slowly becomes normalized, non-traditional users, such as athletes, are finding there are benefits to the substance that go beyond getting stoned and snacking on chips.
CBD and THC
Cannabis contains over 500 distinct compounds, which include cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and omega fatty acids. Some of the most well known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the principal psychoactive compound in cannabis—it’s what gives users the sensation of feeling ‘high’. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive. Taking it won’t have any effect on your mental state.
The reported benefits of CBD
Many cyclists claim the cannabinoid is great for recovery. They say CBD relaxes muscles and acts and an anti-inflammatory to help with muscle repair and renewal. After a long ride, when everything feels tight and achy, taking CBD could be a way to relax and let your body get to work repairing your muscles.
The science behind it
With legalization there has been a massive increase in cannabis research, yet studies exploring the effects of CBD are just beginning to be published. Numerous studies on the analgesic effects of wholecannabis found that the substance was an effective means of pain-relief, leading to the legalization of medical cannabis in 2001.
Until further research is published, most of the benefit of CBD will have to be from self-reported experiments and anecdotal evidence. Many high level athletes swear by the compound, but there is not enough research to say whether the CBD is measurably effective for post-workout recovery.
In Canada, CBD can only be sold by those who have a processing licence to manufacture cannabis products. CBD can be derived from industrial hemp (cannabis that contains 0.3 per cent THC or less), but the Canadian government does not distinguish between CBD derived from industrial hemp or cannabis. Shoppers have to go through the same channels to buy CBD products as they would to buy any other cannabis products.
In the United States, hemp-derived CBD is now federally legal, but cannabis is still not legal in most states. Because hemp-derived CBD is legal and un-regulated, America has seen a boom in CBD products such as cocktails, coffees, face masks, potato chips and more. In Canada CBD is still a controlled substance and tightly regulated, so, for now, we don’t have access to Floyd’s of Leadville’s CBD protein powder.
Although Cannabis is still a banned substance for athletes, in 2018 the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of banned substances.
CBD comes in many forms, most if which don’t involve smoking (good news for your lungs!). An easy place to start is with an ingestible dosage or a topical cream for sore joints. Soft gel pills, tinctures, gummies or drinks will take a bit of time to kick in (in the same way taking a pain-killer like Advil doesn’t immediately have an effect). Be patient and take the recommended dose on the bottle. If you don’t feel the effects, try increasing the dose the next time you take CBD. There are no known negative side effects of taking too much CBD, though some people report it will make them a bit sleepy.
When looking at CBD products on your province’s dispensaries’ website, be sure to note the THC content. Most will be listed at 0.0-0.1mg/ml of THC, a low enough concentration that you almost certainly won’t feel any THC effects.
Other CBD products, especially dried flower, may have a high enough THC content that you’ll feel the psychoactive effects. Some find the combination of a small amount of THC with CBD is exactly what they need to relax after a hard workout. As long as you’re over over 19, all of it is legal so experiment away, and see what works best for you.