Cannabis Use In Active Athletes: Behaviors Related to Subjective Effects

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Study Offers Insight Into Adult Athletes’ Relationship to Cannabis and its Potential for Pain Management

BOULDER, Colo. – July 8, 2019 /Canna Newswire– The Colorado-based Canna Research Group developed The Athlete Pain, Exercise, and Cannabis Experience (PEACE) Survey study for active adults to look beyond the stigma of cannabis use in athletes. Historically, cannabis use in athletes has been studied in adolescents, college students, and professionals through the lens of anti-doping and/or anti-abuse research. Canna Research Group aimed to expand this traditional scope of cannabis research to include patterns of use and positive and adverse effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in community-based adult athletes.

Study co-author Joanna Zeiger, MS, Ph.D. raced as a professional triathlete from 1998-2010. She placed 4th in the triathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and won the 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in world record time. She is a seven-time Olympic trials qualifier in three sports: marathon (three), triathlon (three), and swimming (one). When she is not training for running events, Dr. Zeiger works as a cannabis epidemiologist. She is the Founder & CEO of Canna Research Group.

The 1,161 participants in The Athlete PEACE Survey study were a combination of triathletes, runners, cyclists, swimmers, and a variety of other athletes. Nearly half of the athletes reported either acute or chronic pain. Of those athletes surveyed, 26% reported cannabis use in the past two weeks. The athletes using cannabis were very active, 73% percent indicated they worked out 5-7 days per week with 89.5% reporting 6 or more hours per week of exercise. Three distinct cannabis-using groups emerged. The first group were athletes over age 40 years who primarily used medical CBD, the second group were athletes of mixed age who used cannabis mainly recreationally with THC-only and CBD-only use, and finally, the last group was athletes of mixed age who used cannabis the longest with THC and CBD co-use. The athletes who co-used THC and CBD reported the most benefits from cannabis, including reductions in pain and anxiety and improved sleep; this group also reported the highest level of adverse experiences (at a much lower rate than positive benefits) of increased appetite and diminished concentration. About 60% of the current cannabis users revealed that they used cannabis for pain and of these 76%-85% indicated cannabis was “moderately” or “very much” helpful for the relief of specific types of pain.

“We are excited to be a part of the burgeoning field of cannabis research. The results of our study suggest that athletes are using cannabis successfully to improve pain and well-being in a manner that is not negatively impacting their athletic performance. Cannabis may have a role in the daily health regimen for active athletes suffering from pain, anxiety, and insomnia. Our results need to be replicated in larger studies and clinical trials. More research is needed to better understand dosing to further mitigate the potential adverse reactions to cannabis” reported Joanna Zeiger, CEO of Canna Research Group and an Olympic triathlete.

“Cannabis Use In Active Athletes: Behaviors Related to Subjective Effects,” is published in PLOS ONE: The study provides full background information on the survey process, the study findings, and potential application of The Athlete PEACE Survey in groups beyond athletics.

About Canna Research Group
The Canna Research Group is a consortium of researchers whose goal is to understand the role of cannabis in chronic pain management by engaging in outcomes research that is relevant to the cannabis industry, medical professionals, and patients. The CRG’s mission is to be the preeminent advisers for manufacturers, distributors, and organizations considering cannabis research for chronic pain management.
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Media Contact:
Joanna Zeiger, MS, PhD.
Canna Research Group
+1 (303) 815-3914

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