The Sports World Cannabis Conundrum 

Marijuana and sports – two concepts that many believe are polar opposites, are actually connected in more ways than we think. Aside from recreational usage, many athletes rely on it for recovery purposes, whether it be physical or mental. Upon surveying 1,000 sports fans, many agree with marijuana’s place in sports, but, as always, there are differing opinions in between the lines.

We’ve asked respondents what kind of conditions need to be met in order for them to be comfortable with athlete marijuana consumption. Some outlined them, while others were totally against it no questions asked. There seems to be a disconnect between athletes and a lot of the general population regarding the link between marijuana and sports – let’s take a closer look at both sides of the story.


Marijuana: Yay or Nay?

The age-old question – should marijuana be allowed in pro sports? According to respondents, 54.2% were fully on board with athlete usage and 17.5% were totally opposed. Around a third of the respondents we surveyed said that marijuana should be allowed for use among athletes but with certain conditions.


Across the listed leagues, the distribution was similar to the overarching question above. By a slight margin, MMA had the bulk of fans agreeing with athlete usage of marijuana, whereas United States Tennis Association (USTA) die-hards were mostly on board with it if certain conditions applied – the USTA also had the most fans who personally consumed marijuana. PGA and LPGA supporters were most against athlete usage of marijuana.

Only 22.8% of marijuana users thought athletes should be tested for it, whereas 32.7% of nonusers were on board with testing. Each professional sports league has their own policies implemented in regards to marijuana testing and consequences – there is no punishment for a positive marijuana test in the NHL, the MLB removed marijuana from its banned substance list (although players are still subject to discipline if caught with it), the NFL has eased restrictions, and the NBA still enforces punishments for positive tests.


Certain Conditions Apply

The most agreed upon condition that would make people feel comfortable with athlete’s using marijuana was if they were doing it to relieve pain. More than 60% of respondents were also OK with them using it in the privacy of their own home, to ease stress or anxiety, or to help them sleep. A handful (8.5%) believed, under no condition, it should be consumed.


Over half of respondents were against marijuana usage in sports simply because they were worried about athletes playing while under the influence, and just under half believed they’d be setting a bad example for kids or worried it would negatively impact their performance.

Interestingly, 60% were opposed to athlete usage if it maintained their performance levels, and 53.2% felt the same way if it improved their performance levels. While both positive and negative effects of marijuana usage have been documented, some potential benefits for athletes include reducing soreness and pain, improving sleep, and reducing anxiety. Clearly, many believe these are unfair advantages.


The Stigma

While assessing superstars across a variety of sports leagues, over half of respondents wouldn’t change their view on them if they were using marijuana, and the rest were pretty evenly split between having negative or positive views given the scenario.


Many athletes have been trying to break the stigma against marijuana, and former NFL veteran Ricky Williams has played a key role in doing so. He was notorious for using marijuana while in the league and dealt with his fair share of suspensions before retiring for good. Williams promptly started his own cannabis company selling high-end herbal remedies to customers around the world. According to our data, Tom Brady and LeBron James would likely get the most heat from fans if they were public about marijuana use



Referring specifically to CBD, 67.1% of respondents believed it should be completely allowed in professional sports, and around a third of all fans surveyed said CBD was acceptable if certain conditions of use were met. Only 11.8% thought athletes had no place using it at all.


Similarly to marijuana usage, MMA enthusiasts were the most on board with CBD being allowed for athlete consumption. Ironically, USTA fans were least likely to believe it should be allowed, but they themselves used CBD the most, compared to any other league fans.

The top acceptable uses for CBD use, according to respondents, were the same for marijuana consumption – pain relief, lowering stress or anxiety, at-home use, and to help with sleep. The Diaz brothers (Nate and Nick), who have both had successful runs in the UFC and are openly THC-friendly, launched their own company called Game Up Nutrition, selling premium CBD products to the public.


The Future of Cannabis in Sports

As we now have learned, many people advocate for marijuana consumption in pro sports leagues, but some would like certain conditions to be met in order for them to stand behind it. Marijuana and CBD products help many athletes with the recovery they need, and some athletes, such as Ricky Williams and the Diaz brothers, are trying to erase the stigma behind these products.

As cannabis becomes more accepted by society, athletes will likely be able to consume, without punishment, the products they feel they need to stay in the best shape possible. And just as athletes get the best of science and sports medicine, they’ll likely be choosing only the best marijuana and CBD products for their recovery and pain management needs. Brands like offer some of the most premium CBD products in the space, focusing on non-GMO and organic ingredients for the most discerning consumers, from elite athletes to consumers who prefer brands with a positive environmental impact. Head over to to browse premium CBD products and learn more about the ways you can incorporate CBD into your lifestyle.


Methodology and Limitations

We surveyed 1,000 sports fans. 58% of respondents were men, and 42% were women. Respondent ages ranged from 23 to 62 with an average age of 37. 

For short, open-ended questions, outliers were removed. To help ensure that all respondents took our survey seriously, they were required to identify and correctly answer an attention-check question.

These data rely on self-reporting by the respondents and are only exploratory. Issues with self-reported responses include, but aren’t limited to, the following: exaggeration, selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and bias. All values are based on estimation.


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