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The BIG3 will allow pro athletes to use cannabidiol (CBD) to change cannabis stigma and help athletes

An American pro sports league has authorized players to use cannabidiol (CBD) without penalty for the first time.

The BIG3 is a new 3-on-3 pro basketball league co-founded by rapper Ice Cube and entertainment industry executive Jeff Kwatinetz. Featuring mostly retired NBA players like (as of this writing) Metta World Peace, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Al Harrington (who has a legal cannabis business himself), and DeShawn Stevenson, the BIG3 drafts mostly retired players and gives them a chance to play ball again on one of eight national teams.

The perception of CBD in sports is changing

Earlier this year, CBD was also removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of banned substances.

“This is a no-brainer decision,” Kwatinetz said in a statement. “This is a medical decision. It is a medical and a humane decision. To not allow athletes to use CBD and instead to force them to use opioids is irresponsible and perhaps even disgusting. It reflects an attitude of not caring about player health.”

The BIG3 already made history early this year with its hiring of Nancy Lieberman, former assistant coach of the Sacramento Kings, and now the first female head coach of a men’s professional sports league with the BIG3 team, Power.

The BIG3 is entering its second season in 2018. It hopes to attract even more big names to the league with its live Friday-night broadcasts on FOX, FS1 and/or Facebook, and through its sponsorship partner, Adidas.

“You gotta take baby steps,” Al Harrington said in an interview. “You gotta start somewhere. And the one thing they’ll never be able to take away from us as a league is that we were the first professional league that allowed cannabis use. Even though it’s CBD.

“I think it starts here,” Harrington continued, “and as we get more educated and different things like that, and some of the research stuff that I’m working on, where I can present to Jeff and Cube that, OK, these products with THC are good, too—you should consider allowing players to use products with THC as well. But it’s a process.”

Photos by chelsea ferenando and Marius Christensen