Major League Baseball to Allow CBD Sponsorships

The MLB stated in a conference call on June 21 that CBD is now an “approved category” which means that teams are now allowed to sell CBD sponsorships as long as the brand has received an NSF certification (a verification that a product has no THC).

According to Sports Business Journal, MLB Chief Revenue Officer Noah Garden explained the reason for the change. “We’ve been watching this category for a while and waiting for it to mature to the point where we can get comfortable with it,” said Garden. “We told the clubs if you want to do a deal in the CBD category, it will require two things: One is NSF certification—and none of them are there yet, although around three to five [brands] are in process. The other is to get approval from the commissioner’s office…Our fans are very much the kind of customers they are looking for, and we like being first. It’s a good opportunity for us and the clubs. The last few companies that came to see us about this, the process of NSF certification was embraced. That gave us a comfort level to be able to move forward.”

Recently, analysts shared that CBD could generate up to $4.9 billion across the globe in 2022, with a projection of reaching $47 billion by 2028.

The MLB “patch program,” which began in March 2022, allows each team to feature a brand and logo on their team uniforms for on-field players. The San Diego Padres was the first team to embrace this new sponsorship by partnering with Motorola. With this in mind, Garden added that a CBD brand could possibly be featured in a patch deal too. “We are open-minded to doing a patch deal here, depending on the brand and what that brand represents,” Garden said. “It has to have a brand that represents sports.” 

It’s a landmark milestone for CBD in the MLB, but the conversation spans most other sports organizations as well.

NBA athlete Kevin Garnett said in an interview with Sports Business Journal last week following his attendance of the Brand Innovation Summit that was held in Chicago, Illinois on June 13-15, “I think with the emergence and where CBD is going, not only are you going to see a deal [in the NBA], you are going to start see the sponsorships on the jerseys.” Garnett continued, “You are going to start to see a more active role of CBD products actually signing players, both women and men. And then I think you’re going to see the education come out a little more because we’re all looking for it now. I think CBD is here, it’s a disruptor, it has disrupted pharma, as it should, and it’s a great, different solution. If people are not using it, I recommend people to go out and have your own testimonials and your own experiences with it. It really does work.”

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Vice President of Global Partnerships Grant Norris-Jones also spoke at the event on the topic CBD and its benefits for athletes. “It’s a better alternative to addictive products, like pain killers, opioids, and sleeping aids,” said Norris-Jones. “The big problem has been the different standards and practices by our various broadcast partners when it comes to CBDs…In the U.K., [UFC sponsor] Love Hemp is sold in the equivalent of Walgreens and CVS. Here, their activations have to be outside of ESPN currently. So it’s been a lot of digital, social and a brand ambassador program with our athletes.”

The MLB first made waves towards allowing cannabis consumption for athletes over two years ago. Following the events of baseball player Tyler Skaggs who died of an opioid overdose, the organization announced in December 2019 that it would be removing cannabis from its list of “abused drugs” (but would still test for substances such as fentanyl and cocaine).

However, the MLB still said in March 2020 that players may receive punishments for appearing under the influence of cannabis at any practices or games.

The NBA was next to make history when it announced in October 2021 that it would not be testing its athletes for cannabis during the 75th season, which began in October 2021 and ended in May 2022.

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5 Professional Sports That Permit Cannabis Use

Since 1968, professional athletes have been tested for the use of performance enhancing drugs and banned substances. Up until recently, cannabis was deemed a banned substance. Cannabis’s reputation as a banned substance is rapidly changing. Today, we will discuss five professional sports that permit the use of cannabis. Football (NFL) In the NFL’s current collective […]

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How Cannabis Laws Impact Professional Sports

Throughout history, professional athletes have been punished by teams, leagues and the law for cannabis consumption. Several high-profile examples are listed below, showcasing just how serious such actions were viewed within the world of professional sports.

  • 2004: Running back Ricky Williams is suspended from the National Football League for 4 games after testing positive for marijuana. He subsequently retired from the NFL due to their cannabis policy (before later returning) and was later suspended in 2006 for a full year, after testing positive once again.
  • 2015: Jon Singleton, at the time a top prospect for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball, was demoted and suspended for 100 games after testing positive for marijuana three times.

Professional sports are an example of how the treatment and opinions of cannabis usage is ever-changing across America. With continued education on cannabis and its benefits, we see an easing in laws and regulations on cannabis usage by employers for their employees. With continued education, we hope this continues to evolve in a positive direction.

Cultiva Law is one of the leading Cannabis law firms in the country and is striving to move the cannabis industry forward through education and representation. The firm supports the progress and evolution of the United States professional sports industries’ treatment on cannabis usage.

Restrictions Are Easing

Only recently has the U.S. professional sports industry seen a shift toward easing restrictions and penalties on cannabis consumption. The following is a breakdown of the current state of cannabis across various American professional sports leagues:


In 2019, the NFL announced multiple new steps it was taking to better understand cannabis and its cannabinoids, including wanting to learn about different CBD delivery systems, and how products such as edibles, oil and vaporizers could help players as potential pain management tools. The Pain Management Committee met with cannabidiol manufacturers to further learn its potential, affects, and benefits.

In 2020, the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to a new 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement which included a positive shift with regard to the treatment of cannabis use by players. Under the agreement, players can no longer be suspended for testing positive for THC. Furthermore, during the first two weeks of training camp, the threshold increased from 35 nanograms of THC to 150 nanograms.


While cannabis consumption is still banned by the National Basketball Association, cannabis drug testing for the current 2020-2021 season has been ceased due to citing the “unusual circumstances of the pandemic.”

Under normal circumstances, if an NBA player tests positive for cannabis, for his first violation the player must attend an anti-drug treatment program. Subsequently, the player receives a fine for the second violation and a five-game suspension without pay for his third violation.


In December 2019, Major League Baseball announced it had reached an agreement with the Players Association to remove cannabis, THC and CBD from the league’s list of Drugs of Abuse. As of February 2020, according to MLB, “marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct,” which includes mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and potential discipline depending on conduct (the commissioner warned players not to show up to practice or games intoxicated).

Furthermore, in 2019 it was announced that Minor League Baseball players would no longer be tested for cannabis, and cannabis would be taken off the banned substance list. Players who test positive for cannabis will be admitted to a substance abuse treatment program but will not be suspended from any games.


The National Hockey League no longer classifies cannabis as a banned substance but continues to test for THC levels. If an NHL player tests positive, there is no punishment. However, if abnormally high levels of THC are detected, league physicians recommend treatment.


On January 14, 2021, the UFC and the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced they would no longer punish athletes who test positive for THC. Previously, athletes were tested prior to a fight. Now, under the new change, fighters who test positive will not be punished.

Advocacy and Education

Great progress has been made with regard to punishment for cannabis consumption by sports teams and leagues. Further advocacy to ease restrictions and promote the benefits of cannabis for professional athletes can only help players succeed.

Cultiva Law is encouraged by the strides professional sports organizations are making in their treatment of cannabis consumption all across the U.S. The firm’s dedicated team of attorneys hopes to represent future ex-professional athletes in their second careers as cannabis industry entrepreneurs.

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COVID-19: Europe to U.S. Travel Ban forces Major Cancellations, NHL

Following Wednesday night’s Presidential address concerning the COVID-19 global pandemic, which resulted in Pres. Trump announcing a 30 day ban on all travel from Europe to the United States, beginning on Friday, the announcements of event cancelations, sporting season suspension, and festival postponements have come fast and heavy. Following the lead set by european sporting […]

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MLB: Baseball Players can Smoke Cannabis but can’t be Sponsored by Weed Companies

With spring training now in full swing, Major League Baseball is further clarifying its stance on marijuana. Players can now consume cannabis without risk of discipline, the league explained in a new memo, but they can’t show up to work under the influence and — at least for now — are barred from entering into commercial arrangements with companies in the marijuana industry.

The league also says it’s also teaming with product-testing organization NSF International to analyze and certify legal, contaminant-free CBD products in order to allow teams to store them on club premises.

The announcements came in a new memorandum from MLB Deputy Commissioner Daniel R. Halem. Dated February 19, it’s an update to the MLB’s decision late last year to remove cannabis from the league’s list of banned substances.

Before the rule change, players who tested positive for THC were referred to mandatory treatment, and failure to comply carried a fine of up to $35,000. That penalty is now gone.

But despite the relaxed marijuana rules, the league says in the new memo, which was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, that key restrictions remain on how players and teams may interact with legal cannabis. “While natural cannabinoids will no longer be considered Prohibited Substances under MLB’s Drug Programs,” the memo says, “there are still restrictions on, and risks associated with, the use, possession and distribution of marijuana and other natural cannabinoids.”

For one thing, players will still be subject to sanctions if they show up to work high. “If players or Club personnel appear under the influence of marijuana or any other cannabinoid during any of the Club’s game’s practices, workouts, meetings or otherwise during the course and within the scope of their employment,” the memo says, “they will be referred to a mandatory evaluation under the applicable cannabinoid and alcohol treatment program.”

Team doctors are also forbidden from recommending medical cannabis or providing any cannabinoid products to players, and teams may not store such products on club premises.

“Because Clubs are required to comply with all DEA regulations that apply to Controlled Substances, Club medical personnel are prohibited from prescribing, dispensing or recommending the use of marijuana or any other cannabinoid to any player or Club personnel,” the document, which Marijuana Moment has independently reviewed, says.

That restriction could eventually change, at least when it comes to CBD: MLB and its players union are working with NSF International, a product-testing organization, “to develop an independent testing and certification process for these products,” aimed at ensuring they are legally compliant and free of contaminants. “MLB will continue to monitor and provide updates as certain hemp-based CBD products are tested and verified by NSF International,” the memo says.

Players can also be “subject to discipline” by their team or the MLB “for engaging in certain cannabinoid-related conduct, including violations of federal, state or local laws,” the memo says, such as by distributing marijuana or driving under the influence.

Players also can’t cash in on the green rush — at least not yet. Despite the mad dash by some legal marijuana companies to secure celebrity spokespeople, the league says its players may not invest in or be sponsored by the legal cannabis industry.

MLB says it intends to release a separate bulletin “regarding investments in, and commercial arrangements with, companies that produce, market, sell and/or distribute natural cannabinoids.” But “until such guidance is issued, any such investments or commercial arrangements are still considered to be prohibited in accordance with current practices,” Halem wrote.

The new policies stem from negotiations last year between the MLB and its players union. Both parties agreed to approach the league’s drug policy with an emphasis on treatment rather than penalties. Players who test positive for opioids or cocaine, for example, will be penalized only if they refuse treatment.

A number of athletic governance bodies have recently relaxed rules around cannabinoids as laws change and medical applications become more widely accepted. The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), for example, said in 2017 that athletes can use CBD, and it also recently increased its allowable limit on THC metabolites.

Meanwhile, the National Football League is in negotiations with players about how to adjust its own marijuana rules. A proposed collective bargaining agreement from the NFL Players Association aims to recast drug policy “to increase emphasis on clinical care over punishment.” Players would no longer be suspended for testing positive for THC, and annual testing would be limited to the first two weeks of training camp. The league’s THC testing limit would be raised from 35 to 150 nanograms, bringing the limit in line with WADA standards.

In an effort to reduce drug-related harms, however, the plan would increase penalties for driving under the influence, imposing a three-game suspension.

A vote on the NFL’s new policy is expected in coming weeks.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.

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It’s Not a Marijuana Free-For-All for Professional Athletes

When it was announced earlier this year during the offseason that professional baseball players were no longer going to be drug tested for marijuana, well, let’s just say that the cannabis advocacy community considered it a homerun. It was progress. For the past several years, there has been a lot of chatter surrounding cannabis and athletes, some of which insists that these mofos should have the freedom to use it as an alternative to prescription drugs. But conflicting state and federal laws have the leagues a little apprehensive about going all-in with respect to anything weed-related. Still, the pressure is mounting. So, as an act of good faith — that is, to keep all of the reefer radicals off their backs — some pro sports leagues, including the MLB, have come to grips with the fact that it might be detrimental in this day and age to keep testing players for pot. Only, that doesn’t mean that athletes can go full-blown stoner. It turns out there could still be some stiff penalties for those players who wear their pot consumption on their sleeves.

Although the white coats of the MLB are not scouring player’s systems this year for THC, a recent memo obtained by ESPN’s Jeff Passan shows that marijuana use isn’t exactly being embraced. The document indicates that players and team officials who “appear under the influence of marijuana or any other cannabinoid during any of the club’s games, practices, workouts, meetings or otherwise during the course and within the scope of their employment” will be given a “mandatory evaluation” to determine if they need drug treatment. The league would then also have the choice to review the incident and determine the extent of their cruel and unusual punishment.

In other words, the MLB isn’t testing players for marijuana, but if management suspects that someone is stoned, there will be hell to pay.

Furthermore, it appears that MLB is going all American authoritarian on its players, as well. In a report from the mighty Sports Illustrated, deputy commissioner Dan Halem explained that the league still has the freedom to punish players who break state marijuana laws. So, while those dudes playing for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Chicago Cubs are relatively safe from disciplinary action (both teams reside in areas where prohibition is no longer in effect), players with organizations like the St. Louis Cardinals could find themselves in deep trouble if they are caught in possession or driving under the influence. Because while it is true that medical marijuana is legal in 26 of the 30 cities where major leaguers do their thing, pot is only permitted in 11 jurisdictions for recreational use. The MLB still doesn’t allow marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes, and it doesn’t want it anywhere on the premises of team facilities, the document states.

It should be noted that, despite all of the rules the MLB has for players regarding marijuana, it is still the league with the most progressive drug policies. The NBA continues to test for weed, even though some former players believe that as many as 85% of pro ballers are getting high. Some current players are also advocating for a change in the NBA’s drug policy. All-Star Kevin Durant, who recently signed with the Brooklyn Nets, believes weed should be treated no differently than wine. “It’s a plant that’s put here for a reason, and that’s to bring us together, Durant said. “Hopefully, it happens (eliminating marijuana from the banned substances list), especially in the NBA.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has indicated that the issue is being discussed. But he wants to see more research. And the decision the NBA makes must also take into account how it influences young fans. “When we change our policy, we have to be really careful because we’re clearly sending a message to young people,” he said. “Just like with alcohol, you have to teach young people how to use a substance appropriately and responsibly, so it doesn’t overwhelm your life. It’s a complicated issue.”

What about the NFL? Well, the league still hasn’t embraced marijuana for medical use, but it is taking a more relaxed attitude towards those players who use it. The latest collective bargaining agreement, which was just made official, eliminates the possibility of game suspensions for players who test positive for THC. It would also reduce other penalties associated with this offense. The deal includes “dramatically reduced penalties, with suspensions happening only in the event of extreme and repeated disregard of the policy or significant violations of applicable law regarding the possession and use of marijuana,” according to NBC Sports.

It’s still going to be a minute, however, before players are allowed to use marijuana the same as alcohol. Sure, professional sports leagues are starting to come around concerning drug testing and the penalties associated with pot, but they aren’t letting players totally off the hook. Perhaps the cannabis issue in professional sports is, as Jerry Seinfeld once said, like knocking over a Coke machine. “You can’t do it in one push. You gotta rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over.”

TELL US, does your favorite player support marijuana?

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MLB to treat cannabis like alcohol, and instead test for opioids

Major League Baseball announced Thursday, in a joint drug agreement between the MLB and the players’ association, that it will start testing for opioids and cocaine, but only players who do not co-operate with their treatment plans will be subject to discipline. Additionally, in a significant shift, cannabis will be removed from the list of […]

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Major League Baseball Calls For Rehab, Not Suspension For Players On Opioids

MIAMI (AP) — Players who test positive for opioids would enter treatment and not be suspended under the change to Major League Baseball’s drug agreement being negotiated by management and the players’ association, according to union head Tony Clark.

Talks to
add testing for opioids began following the death this year of Los
Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Players have been tested for
performance-enhancing substances since 2004 and for banned stimulants
since 2006.

“We believe wholeheartedly, as we always have, that
the treatment option and not discipline is the best route to go,” Clark
said Wednesday as the union’s executive board finished its annual

The union and MLB are in agreement that treatment would
be warranted for opioids and not discipline, Clark said. He added the
addition to the drug agreement likely be made this offseason.

“I’m pretty confident that’s where we’re going,” Clark said.

was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1 before the
start of a series against the Texas Rangers. A medical examiner’s office
said the 27-year-old died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix
of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body.

Tony Clark, executive director of the baseball players’ union (AP Photo/ Carlos Osorio)

spoke after the three days of union meetings, with all 30 player
representatives in attendance. Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers became
the first Venezuelan to be elected to the executive subcommittee.

focus was on preparations for collective bargaining, which has begun
well in advance of the current deal’s expiration in December 2021.

spent a lot of time talking about industry economics and player
markets,” Clark said. “We’re nowhere near a point of proposals and
formal engagement.”

The union discussed pace of play and isn’t
enthusiastic about MLB’s proposal to require a three-batter minimum for
pitchers next season. MLB has the right to change the rule for 2020 even
without the union’s agreement.

The union has been resistant to such changes to speed up play.

seen a game that has changed dramatically over the last four or five
years, and I don’t know that there’s a clear answer yet on what type of
game we want to have,” Clark said. “Guys are very concerned about the
constant discussions about rule changes. If we want to make
extraordinary changes, call it something else. Don’t call it baseball.”

said the union is receptive to reducing the length of breaks between
innings to 1 minute, 55 seconds during the regular season, another
change management has the right to make for 2020.

By Steven Wine

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