This article was written by Scott Maza, co-founder and COO of Buffalo Vitality CBD. Coming from a financial background, Scott is well versed in the benefits of cannabis and passionate about providing people with a natural alternative to the pharmaceutical industry.
Sports fans: CBD will come to a screen near you. Last month, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that it would allow teams to accept CBD sponsorship, a watershed progression for the acceptance of cannabis in professional sports.
Experts believe this decision will echo across the industry and open up a new sponsorship category in professional sports. In fact – from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to the National Football League (NFL) – this is something we are already starting to see. So, let’s take a look at what this means and why pairing makes sense.
The latest in CBD in sports
For those who follow closely, the decision of baseball officials is not surprising. The announcement to allow CBD sponsorship comes two years after the MLB removed cannabis from its banned substances list and four years after the influential World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) did the same. The association said it would monitor commercials for approval, similar to how it monitors sports betting ads.
Across sports, there is an emerging trend for policies that include CBD. In fact, in addition to simple advertising dollars, these sports icons are seriously considering the health benefits of CBD for athletes. Last year, for example, the UFC moved to sponsor CBD through a five-year, multi-million dollar global partnership with Love Hemp. The deal comes just under two years after the UFC announced a long-term research partnership with Aurora Cannabis to evaluate the benefits of CBD performance in reducing pain and inflammation and improving wound healing and general recovery.
Similarly, look at the NFL. After making it legal for players to use CBD last year, the association donated more than $1 million in June to research the effects of cannabis on pain management and neuroprotection from concussions. The grant is a progressive move by the NFL to better understand and improve alternative therapies for better pain management, especially since an estimated four out of five NFL players use cannabis.
What stands in the way of CBD and Sports
With so many sports on board, CBD in sports is closer than ever to reality. However, the problem is what still stands in the way of many companies: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is not legal to add CBD to food, supplements, and pet foods, and this should be reflected in advertisements. Likewise, marketing materials cannot claim to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure serious diseases.
Of course, what can and cannot be said in CBD marketing will also depend on each sports code and its rulebook. Baseball notes that it is likely to be regulated in the same way as sports betting. If this is the case, there may not be many hoops that companies can jump through. Here in New York, for example, the state officially launched online sports betting earlier this year. However, other than some general rules regarding the disclosure of problem gambling hotline, the New York State Gaming Commission has done very little to regulate advertising and promotion in this area. Finding the right balance between government regulators and the Food and Drug Administration will be key to success in this booming space.
Why CBD and Sports make sense
For CBD companies, televised advertising for millions of sports fans can be a marketing boon. At the same time, companies will need to be careful with what is said – as well as do your homework. Make sure that you comply with the rules set by the specific sports law and the Food and Drug Administration. Also, make sure your brand suits those who view it at home. If they are older and watch sports, for example, you might consider making use of the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD in your posts. It is worth noting that sports viewers seem ready for this development. According to a SingleCare survey, a third of American adults have used CBD products at least once, and more consumers are understanding the difference between hemp and hemp.
Overall, moving towards CBD in sports advertising is another step in the right direction. In the past years, the regulations for marketing on social media and search engines were also strict. These platforms have also become more relaxed over time. In 2021, Facebook further relaxed its rules to allow “cannabis-based topical products.” Meanwhile, Snapchat – the preferred destination for millennials and Generation Z demographics – became one of the first outlets to allow the use of the letters “CBD” in marketing.
In my view, the move towards CBD declaration by some of our country’s biggest sports is a huge sign of approval. Also hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.
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