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Despite risks, CBD use in pro golf continues to rise

Ten years ago, few would have expected to see professional golfers sponsored by a product even tangentially related to marijuana. However, athletes across the world have discovered the benefits of CBD oil, a hemp product mostly devoid of THC. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of prohibited supplements in 2018 – but, as with any supplement, CBD use is not without its risks.

Why many professional golfers turn to CBD

The use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil has been on the rise across many sports over the last several years. For golfers, it is claimed that the hemp-based product helps to relieve both the mental and physical strain of practicing day in and day out for many years. Topping the claimed list of benefits are anti-inflammatory effects, anxiety relief, and better sleep.

Approximately 15-20 players on the PGA tour reportedly use CBD products to help with the strain the game places on their bodies and minds. Several players are even sponsored by hemp-oil companies, including Bubba Watson, Lucas Glover, Scott Piercy, and Charley Hoffman.

Product labels don’t always reveal the whole story

As we touched on in a previous post, regulation of labeling in CBD products has led athletes to inadvertently test positive for THC. Products labeled “THC-free” may, in fact, contain enough of the psychoactive chemical to impair players – or at least show up on a drug test. This lack of regulation worries many, including Andy Levinson, executive director of the PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping program.

“The industry is so poorly regulated there is no assurance,” Levinson told the Golf Channel in May. “For us, when a player inquires about a supplement, we tell them there is a risk.”

Therefore, although CBD is expressly allowed by both the PGA and global anti-doping agencies, players should still proceed with caution. 

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