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Why Doesn’t the XFL Test for Cannabis Like the NFL?

Back in early 2000, when the XFL revealed it was returning, it also announced that it would enact very progressive policies concerning cannabis use by its players. Unlike the NFL, the XFL would not test players for cannabis under their drug testing policy. That includes both things like marijuana, but also cannabidiol (CBD) which is becoming an increasingly popular supplement to treat issues like pain, sleep issues, inflammation, and more.

In fact, CBD for athletes is becoming very popular as an alternative form of pain treatment to help them recover from injuries. That’s partly why the NFL announced in the spring of 2021 that they would allow players to use CBD under their new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Player’s Association.

There were a few high profile football players who tried CBD and swore by it. Rob Gronkowski famously came back from retirement to renew his NFL career in part because he started using CBD to recover from a regular injury during his time away from football. That led him to using it more, and he found he was able to recover well enough that he could return to professional football. Quarterback Baker Mayfield also used it to recover from an injury, and liked it so much he became the first active NFL player to invest in a CBD company.

However, there are other reasons why more high performance athletes are turning to CBD as a performance supplement.

Reduce Anxiety

Performance anxiety is something many athletes have to battle at some point in their careers. It could be anxiety related to returning from an injury, or anxiety related to a very important game. Either way, CBD has been found to reduce situational and general feelings of stress and anxiety. This in turn can help football players stay calm and focused ahead of a game, so they can improve their performance when they’re not nervous and jittery.

Improve Joint and Muscle Health

CBD doesn’t just help an athlete’s physical body by treating pain and reducing inflammation caused by an injury. It’s also able to promote improved health in their muscles and joints. It is loaded with antioxidants, but more importantly with omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Fatty acids are an important building block for your body producing new and healthy cells, including in your muscles and joints. When you damage your muscles and joints, either during a game or during a workout to improve your strength and conditioning, you can take CBD to improve your recovery.

Improve Sleep and Relaxation

Sleep is vital to high performance athletes. It’s hard to perform at your best when your mind and body do not feel rested. Plus, lack of sleep can also cause issues like weight gain and increased stress. Professional athletes like football players go through a grind each season, especially with how much travel they have to do. Many athletes will have specific rituals, sleeping pills, and other things to help them relax at night and get a full sleep every day. CBD has become more common as a sleep aid, as it helps relax your body, reduce sources of discomfort like pain, and help you fall asleep.

These are all the reasons why football players from all leagues are turning to CBD. It doesn’t just help with treating pain and helping them recover from injuries, but can also improve their performance anxiety, muscle health, and sleep.

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Mark Perry, a devoted sports journalist and founder of XFL News Hub, has been a key figure in XFL coverage since its 2018 revival. Launching XFL News Hub soon after the league's return announcement, Mark has established the platform as a primary source for comprehensive XFL updates. Renowned for his in-depth knowledge and commitment to sports journalism, Mark actively engages the XFL community, welcoming interactions at

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