Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty Make NBA and WNBA History with CBD Partnership

Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty Make NBA and WNBA History with CBD Partnership

The Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty have entered into partnerships with Mynd Drinks, a hemp-based CBD sparkling beverage company. These agreements mark the first-ever collaborations between National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) teams and the cannabis industry, solidifying a significant step towards cannabis normalization in professional sports.

Mynd Drinks, known for its hemp-based CBD sparkling beverages, gained recognition last year when it became an official partner of the Major League Baseball (MLB) team, the Chicago Cubs. Now, the company is making history again by securing multi-year contracts as the official wellness and recovery drink partner for both the Brooklyn Nets and the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

This move comes months after the NBA removed marijuana from its list of banned substances for players, signaling a shift in the league’s stance on cannabis. Players are now not only allowed to use marijuana but can also invest in and promote cannabis companies. The partnership with Mynd Drinks reflects the NBA’s evolving attitude towards cannabis, emphasizing wellness and recovery within the professional sports sphere.

While specific details of the agreements remain undisclosed, the collaboration involves marketing CBD drinks through in-game features and signage, building visibility for Mynd Drinks during team events. The partnerships align with a broader trend of professional sports organizations embracing the benefits of hemp and CBD, following the federal legalization of hemp and its derivatives under the 2018 Farm Bill.

The move by the Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty mirrors a growing trend in professional sports, where various organizations are normalizing hemp and CBD use. In Major League Baseball, the Chicago Cubs and the Kansas City Royals have already partnered with cannabis companies. The MLB itself announced a league-wide partnership with CBD brand Charlotte’s Web Holdings in 2022, further contributing to the normalization of cannabis in professional sports.

Beyond baseball, the National Football League (NFL) modified its drug testing policy in 2020, eliminating the possibility of game suspensions for positive tests for any drug, including marijuana. The NFL has since initiated a partnership with Canadian researchers to explore the safety and efficacy of CBD for pain management and neuroprotection from concussions.

Collegiate sports are also experiencing a shift, with a proposed NCAA rule change aiming to remove marijuana from the list of substances screened for championship competitions. This proposal builds upon a 2022 change that increased the allowable THC threshold for college athletes, aligning NCAA rules with those of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

In mixed martial arts, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) formally removed marijuana from its banned substances list for athletes in December, aligning its policies with changing societal attitudes towards cannabis. However, challenges persist at the state level, as evidenced by a California athletics commission’s warning to UFC athletes about potential penalties for exceeding THC limits.

While these changes have been welcomed by cannabis advocates, criticism has been directed at WADA for maintaining its cannabis ban. Members of a WADA panel argued that marijuana use by athletes goes against the “spirit of sport,” asserting that athletes using cannabis may set a poor example and pose risks to others. Advocates, including the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), have called for reform, especially following the suspension of U.S. runner Sha’Carri Richardson from the 2021 Olympics due to a positive THC test.

The evolving landscape of cannabis in sports reflects a broader societal shift towards acceptance and recognition of the plant’s potential benefits. As NBA and WNBA teams embrace CBD partnerships, it becomes clear that the cannabis industry’s influence on professional sports is growing, paving the way for continued change and acceptance.

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