Cannabis company as shirt sponsor?

Published on 22 May 2022 at 13:01

Earlier this month, the news came out that the American professional disc team Colorado Summit will be playing this season with a new shirt sponsor. In the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) 25 teams from the USA and Canada come from four divisions. Central, South, West and East. You can compare an Ultimate Disc (UD) match to a rugby or American Football match. Replace the ball with a Frisbee. You can run without a Frisbee, but you can't do that with the Frisbee in your possession. Passing forward is allowed within an UD game and you score points if the Frisbee is caught in the end zone. If you don't catch the disc, the opposing team takes over. If you watch the video for one minute, you get it immediately.

The new shirt sponsor is Starbuds. Not to be confused with the well-known Starbucks brand where they actually do sell coffee. Starbuds is a chain of dispensaries where no coffee is sold, but they do sell what you are used to finding in a Dutch coffee shops. Do you still follow me? I'm talking about cannabis of course! Starbuds sells cannabis. A Dutch coffeeshop sells cannabis and Starbucks sells coffee. If you don't already know, cannabis is legal in Canada and also in many states of the USA. Legal means that the plant may be grown, distributed, sold and consumed there. They call the shops where cannabis is sold a dispensary and not a coffeeshop. A coffeeshop is actually the place to buy coffee!. Isn't that the case in the Netherlands? Nope! In the Netherlands none of this is allowed, with a small exception. Selling and consuming is tolerated in the Netherlands, but is not legal. In the Netherlands you will therefore not encounter a coffeeshop as a shirt sponsor. A coffee shop is not even allowed to advertise or do marketing in any form. A soccer team named the  Trekvogels was even forced in 2019 by the KNVB (Dutch National Soccer Federation) to remove their sponsor, coffeeshop De Kronkel, from its shirt. In Italy, the CBD company Justmary, a cannabis company, has managed to sponsor a professional soccer team in the Serie A. Justmary has not one, but three clubs from Italy for the 2020/21 season. Not as a shirt sponsor, but as a sponsor of professional sports teams. It's happening in Italy, not in the Netherlands!

Cannabis and sports?

Anyone who regularly reads my blogs will by now know that CBD and sport can go very well together. CBD, the molecule from the hemp plant without psychoactive effects, can offer the athlete a number of benefits in training and competition. I have often described sleep improvement, stress and pain relief, concentration and faster recovery. But can you practice your sport stoned? How does that work? Cannabis is a plant family. Indica, Sativa and the ruderalis. One contains more Cannabidiol (CBD), the other more Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). You can use CBD as a professional athlete since January 2018, THC not (yet). Many athletes now use CBD and very occasionally it is in the news that an athlete also uses THC. Usually that is news, because this is followed by a suspension. You may remember the news about athlete Sha'Carri Richardson just before the last Olympic Games in Tokyo. Or Michael Phelps, who was banned for three months by the USA Swimming Federation in 2009 after a photo surfaced of him smoking marijuana. The USA Swimming federation is also based in Colorado. Just like the Colorado Summit Ultimate Disc team. The state where cannabis has now been fully legalized. Colorado now has more than 500 dispensaries for a population of 5.6 million. For comparison; The Netherlands has 565 coffee shops for 17.4 million inhabitants.

So why do professional athletes still use a cannabis product that also contains THC?

Although practising sports do generally have benefits for your body and limbs, professional athletes often have stress, pain and sleep problems. Problems that the body cannot solve on its own without the help of external products. Where a tylenol or aspirin do not help enough against the pain, a stronger remedy is needed. CBD can be compared to the two when it comes to pain relief. With a very strong muscle, tendon or joint pain, a tylenol or CBD does not do the job. THC might. You can compare that with an opiate or morphine that you can get prescribed by a doctor in the form of, for example, Oxycodone or Tramadol. The big advantage of a cannabis product with THC is that there will hardly be any unpleasant side effects, unlike with the use of Oxycodone and Tramadol that have lots of nasty side effects. Likewise with great stress. A Valium tablet is not sufficient, neither is CBD and an SSRI such as Prozac or Zoloft has a huge list of side effects that the athlete does not want and will effect his performance negatively. The healthy alternative is a cannabis product with THC. The downside of using a cannabis product is that the correct and exact (micro) dosage is still difficult for everyone to determine. With regard to pharmaceutical products, we know that through scientific research. Reason for the NFL (the American Football League association) to make 1 million dollars available for scientific research on the impact of cannabis (THC and CBD) use on professional American Football players.

Will we ever see the Dutch Coffeeshops like the Bulldog or Boerejongens on the shirts of Ajax or Feyenoord, for example? 

Looking at the developments and the attitude of the Dutch government towards Cannabis and the Coffeeshop policy, I think we are still lightyears away from that. Strange that a Dutch alcohol manufacturer like Heineken can sponsor the Champions League, because they also happen to market an alcohol-free product. A cannabis manufacturer should be able to do that, because they also market THC-free products, such as CBD. It seems like an unfair fight. There is simply a greater stigma attached to cannabis than to alcohol or legal drugs. Bayer sponsored a couple of Bundesliga teams for years. The difference between illegal drugs and drugs is, of course very small . Or better yet, there sometimes even isn't any difference. Recently, a federal hearing against two Dutch residents started because of the largest ketamine confiscation ever. My knee was recently operated in a Hospital using an epidural as an anaesthetic and a sedative to not to have to experience it all consciously. That sedative was ketamine. Illegal or legal Drugs?.
Perhaps a sedative with cannabis would have been better? The developments in the USA and Canada, but also in many European countries such as Switzerland, Germany and Great Britain and now also in Asia, where Thailand is taking a leading role in the legalization of Cannabis, show that the stigma on cannabis is breaking. One day it will be fully accepted that an athlete uses cannabis products for recovery, sleep improvement, pain relief and stress management. Until that day, I will continue to contribute to breaking the stigma with CBDSPORTS. Soon with our own CBD product line and who knows soon with THC too! But, who would have thought that the World's frontrunner in the acceptance of cannabis from the seventies, is now the most conservative one the entire world?

Roald Tromp aka Papa CBD is the founder of CBD SPORTS, Public Speaker with a background in Sports Leadership (C.I.O.S. Overveen), Sports Nutrition, Professional and Home Fitness Equipment and Education, Master in Sales & Marketing, Ex-Baseball player, Football player, Alpine Skier , Skate- and Snowboarder, Tennis & Ski teacher and CrossFit and MMA addict.


Copyright Grandpa CBD May 2022.
Publication of this article or parts thereof is only permitted with permission of the author.

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