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The World Anti-Doping Agency has removed CBD, the marijuana derivative cannabidiol, usually sold as an oil, from the banned substance list. This makes 2018 the first World Cup in which any substance even remotely cannabis-related is allowed on the pitch.

With the strong domestic push towards the legalization of medical marijuana, other cannabis derivatives, like CBD oil, have intrigued researchers and players alike. Unlike the more popular psychoactive cannabinoid THC, you can’t get high off of CBD, and preliminary research has shown that it’s useful in treating epilepsy, psychosis, and even chronic pain. Professional sports have still been hesitant in their approach to CBD because of its link to THC, which is still heavily stigmatized.

From his perspective, there isn’t much room for error in World Cup drug testing because the metabolic markers that come from processing the chemicals in the liver and kidneys should be sufficient to distinguish the two. “You could discriminate between them,” he adds, after reviewing a 2013 paper on the subject.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has removed CBD, the marijuana derivative cannabidiol from the banned substance list.

CBD is the only exception to the ban on Cannabinoids. THC is still on WADA’s banned substance list, so any hint of THC will get you banned from international competition.

Not everyone sees a clear-cut chemical distinction between CDB and THC which is why regulating CBD has been difficult. Both are procured from the same plants, and they almost share the exact same molecular formula: The difference is that CBD has one extra hydroxyl group attached to it. That one hydroxyl group is the only thing that stands between a psychoactive compound but makes all the difference.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has removed the hemp derivative cannabidiol from the banned substance list.

Tennessee Titans Linebacker Derrick Morgan, worrying about the degenerative effects of CTE, used specific CBD oil as an anti-inflammatory to help ease the effects of repeated blows to his head. “For me, it was the neuro-protectant qualities of it,” he stated in a CBS interview.

Domestic and international sports leagues, nevertheless, are not so easily persuaded. CBD, though, is still banned in the NFL, MLB, and so far, no player has come forward sharing their plans to use CBD oil. We're grateful that WADA, for its part, has taken a significant step in changing the attitude surrounding cannabidiol.

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