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UFC and Aurora Cannabis to Carry Out a CBD Study With Fighters

4 min read

According to CNN, athletes from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will be subjected to tests which will show whether CBD, a cannabis compound, can produce a positive effect on pain and aching which is unavoidable in their line of work.

The professional mixed martial arts league formed a partnership with Aurora Cannabis, a Canadian company. Together with Aurora, the UFC will do research which will include clinical trials with their athletes. The plan is to reveal whether CBD, or cannabidiol, will have any kind of effect on recovery (and to what extent) of the athletes. The ultimate goal is to use the results of the research for creating several hemp-derived CBD alternative treatments for the athletes.

Aurora Cannabis believes that CBD and its variations can have a great impact on injury, inflammation, pain, recovery, and wound care. Together with the UFC officials, they hope that this research will prove the CBD’s effectiveness in these aspects.

Recently, the subject of using cannabis and many of its compounds in sports treatment is one that gathers more and more friction. According to the director of UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative, Dr Jeff Chen, the research which the UFC and Aurora will conduct is the first of this nature. Never before have athletes experimented with cannabis compounds, and potential results can prove to be groundbreaking.

For a while now, athletes’ organizations, such as the National Football League Players Association and Athletes For CARE, have publicly voiced their opinion on using cannabis and its healthy derivatives as recovery medicine. They have been asking league officials to make legal the application of cannabis. They would represent a welcome alternative to painkillers which form addiction in players.

CBD Legality

Earlier in 2019, the NFLPA and the NFL came to an agreement to start researching on cannabis’ effects on pain management. As things stand now, CBD is of issue for NFL players, despite the CBD not having any psychoactive side-effects. The reason behind this is in the fact that, at times, CBD can contain THC in traces. As a reminder, THC is the primary origin of psychoactive effects in cannabis. According to Nate Jackson, former NFL player, who’s an active Athletes For CARE member, having even such a low level of THC in your blood could result in a suspension from the league. Consequently, taking CBD can result in drug abuse, despite CBD products being completely non-psychoactive.

Recently, Jackson joined a panel at the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo Thursday. Jackson said that it was a tough ask to make regulations in this industry and come up with something that the athletes would be happy with entering their bodies.

After the Cannabis Business Summit panel, Dr Chen passed his opinion on the research which the UFC and Aurora would carry out. Dr Chen, who doesn’t take part in the research, said that the structure of it took on a classical approach, where the company provides the funding and supplies the product. Aurora has also designed the study. But unlike in most other cases, they haven’t had a third-party carry out the research, which would normally be a university. Having a university conduct the research would grant you the approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is relatively common, Dr Chan adds, for companies to have the marketing back up a product when they’re doing a singular study.

Carrying Out the Study

Aurora Cannabis’ Global Scientific Oversight Committee chairman, Jason Dyck, Ph.D., claims that the research will satisfy the highest standards concerning ethics, science, and safety. Dyck added that several independent reviews would take place once they receive the research results. Both ethics review and peer review processes would be carried out independently. Additionally, the company will apply for publication and review in scientific journals. They will decide on which journals they will contact depending on the field of research.

In charge of the study will be Dyck and Kelly Narine, Ph.D. Dyck joined Aurora in 2015 as a former cardiovascular research scientist at the University of Alberta. Narine is vice president of the company’s global research and medical affairs. Naturally, they will be joined by the UFC Performance Institute’s team of researchers who specialize in sports performance studies.

Dyck’s opinion is that this joint effort will result in many other CBD-based studies and products as he believes there are a plethora of applications of CBD.

A UFC spokesman addressed the study, claiming that around 30 athletes from the UFC have shown interest in being involved in the study. Moreover, Dr Duncan French, UFC’s vice president of performance, released a statement in which he claimed that this was the optimal way for educating the league and the fighters on CBD’s impact on the athletes and the sport itself. French continued by saying that the UFC wanted to utilize science in efforts to improve their sport. Their hope for this research is to find the clarity on CBD use in athletes’ treatment and injury recovery.

A Step Forward

The UFC has shown the greatest willingness to be open towards cannabis-based products among all professional sports organizations. However, not everybody agrees this is the best route to go down. A cannabis advocate and professional rugby player, Anna Symonds, disagrees that the make-up of the research, where a private company has a specific product in mind, is perhaps not the perfect solution. But in the time where CBD research is held back by laws on marijuana, she admitted it was a welcome start.

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