Marijuana Reform in Sports: Fighting the Stigma & Changing the Culture

Marijuana Reform in Sports: Fighting the Stigma & Changing the Culture

Cannabis in sports is a loaded, but relevant, topic. Although it lacks empirical evidence, the argument against marijuana reform in sports is often emotionally charged. As a result, stigma is emboldened and reform stagnates.

Marijuana Reform in Sports: Fighting the Stigma & Changing the Culture

As members of the cannabis community, the onus is on us to help change the culture. The first crucial step in doing so is learning about the issues that stall marijuana reform and perpetuate stigma in sports.

Here is your guide to fighting against the stigma of cannabis in sports.

The Political — Not Scientific — Origins of the Debate

The modern athlete is a machine. Rigorous training and nutrition programs paired with cutting-edge technology ensure athletes perform at their best. Additionally, stringent supplement protocols keep them safe and out of trouble with governing bodies, like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or the NCAA.

Normally, when an organization bans a substance ㅡ like anabolic steroids, harmful stimulants, or narcotics ㅡ an array of authoritative research supports the ban. However, the ban on cannabis is far from normal.

Rather than being based on cold, hard science, the issue of marijuana and marijuana reform in sports is largely political.

Comprehensive research on elite athletes’ cannabis use doesn’t exist, but some former professionals estimate upwards of 80% of ex-NFL and NBA players regularly use cannabis. In fact, research suggests the use of THC and CBD can enhance sleep, reduce anxiety, and generally improve well-being. So what’s the problem?

Stigma Surrounding Marijuana Reform

The issue of marijuana reform doesn’t stem from any harm cannabis can cause. Nor does it come from any unfair ergogenic benefits it provides. No, the real problem with marijuana in sports is stigma

For decades, marijuana and those who use it have been demonized. The utter hatred that accompanies cannabis has created an ideological rift that makes marijuana reform seem nearly impossible. This stigma doesn’t just harm the industry, though; it harms athletes, too. 

The widespread — albeit uneducated — perception of athletes who smoke is that they’re just potheads who do it to get high. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Elite athletes are beasts of human beings, and most of what they do is deliberate. Cannabis is often used to wind down and improve sleep, thus boosting recovery. It can also be used to cope with the chest-crushing pressure athletes face on a daily basis. However, THC remains a banned substance in the eyes of the IOC.Marijuana Reform in Sports: Fighting the Stigma & Changing the Culture

Interestingly, the U.S. championed this ban in the 1990s. Using sports as yet another weapon in the War on Drugs, the United States bullied the IOC into enacting a ban on cannabis under the guise of protecting the youth.

The Double Standard

As always seems to be the case in sports, a double standard exists. Many would like to compare the suspension of would-be Olympian and star sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson to 28-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, but comparing the two proves difficult. 

While we are sympathetic to the circumstances, Richardson consumed cannabis during an in-competition period — the only time cannabis is banned. Conversely, the infamous photo of Michael Phelps smoking marijuana was taken three months after the 2008 Olympics when he was not in competition.

The double standard that acts as a barrier to marijuana reform exists not between these two athletes but two methods of pain management: cannabis and opiates. While cannabis, an efficacious method of pain management, is banned by the IOC, highly addictive opiates are freely prescribed. 

According to a 2020 study, athletes are at a higher risk of opiate addiction. In fact, opioid use among NFL players was reported to be 52% during their careers. Some research even suggests that cannabis use can reduce the effects of opiate withdrawal! 

So not only can marijuana serve as a viable alternative to opiates, but it can also help solve some of the problems they cause. Yet marijuana is still banned. How does that make any sense at all?

Pushing for Marijuana Reform in Sports

As of right now, the road ahead seems to involve more research. Conducting more studies, collecting more data, and drawing more conclusions will help our cannabis community build up an irrefutable base of evidence to support marijuana reform.

However, research can’t operate without funding, and a good chunk of research money comes from the federal government. Federal legalization may be necessary to fund significant research into cannabis.

Another less expensive step we can take is to support athletes who use cannabis. So we’d like to give a shout-out to Sha’Carri Richardson: We support you. We believe in you. Most importantly, we’re confident your bravery will inspire true change.

For now, continue the conversation and get involved in the debate. Get in touch with us to discuss being a guest on our podcast.

Navigating Cannabis Real Estate to Find Success

Higher Yields Consulting Navigating Cannabis Real Estate to Find Success

Green zones play an important role in cannabis real estate, which, in turn, plays an important role in winning a license. In fact, many states don’t even accept applications if real estate hasn’t already been secured. However, challenges exist with green zones that can make securing real estate difficult.

Higher Yields Consulting Navigating Cannabis Real Estate to Find Success

In addition to a lack of inventory in green zones, state and federal regulations present themselves as challenges, too. Although the road to success may seem rife with obstacles, it can be navigated with the right research and preparation.

Here’s how to overcome these challenges and find success with cannabis real estate.

The Weight of Federal Regulations

Despite being legal in most of the United States — and all of Mexico — federal legislation has yet to legalize cannabis. As a result, it remains illegal for any FDIC-insured bank to receive or process money that has anything to do with the cannabis industry.

Naturally, this makes life difficult for a cannabis real estate operator: If a property owner has any federally backed loans tied to a piece of property — as most do — they cannot lease to a cannabis operation. Their only option would be to sell, which would mean giving up a lucrative asset.

The Safe Banking Act Offers Relief

Luckily, the Safe Banking Act saves the day. Introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado’s seventh District, this legislation loosens the government’s grip on cannabis-related finances. Broadly, the Safe Banking Act prohibits the government from punishing banks that work with legitimate cannabis operators.

Specifically, this bill allows:

  1. Institutions to provide general banking services to cannabusinesses.
  2. People and banks to sell affordable, federally backed loans to the cannabis industry.
  3. Cannabis real estate operators to lease their properties rather than be forced to sell.

The Safe Banking Act has opened new doors for operators as well as those in ancillary fields — in particular, cannabis real estate.

State Restrictions, Green Zones & Setbacks

Unfortunately, both the federal and state governments create challenges for cannabis real estate operators. For instance, space in green zones — areas in which cannabis operations can be legally located — is getting harder and harder to find. 

Further, cities continue to tighten regulations known as setbacks, which dictate the specific distances cannabis businesses must be located from facilities like schools, rehab centers, and day cares. Denver officials, for example, are adding fitness centers and public swimming pools to their list of setback regulations.

Recently, I worked with a client who had bought a medical-only dispensary attached to a cultivation facility with the goal of switching from medical-only to recreational. When the original owner had won the medical-only license, however, there were no setback restrictions in place for residential areas.

Higher Yields Consulting Navigating Cannabis Real Estate to Find Success

If we had kept the same medical-only license, the client would have been grandfathered into the property regardless of the new setbacks. Since we had to reapply for a recreational license, though, the new setbacks kicked in and we were forced to find a new location. 

The Promise of Emerging Cannabis Real Estate Markets

Although shrinking green zones prove to be both a nuisance and a challenge, new states offer opportunities. In particular, emerging states like New York, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and New Jersey all have potential locations still up for sale.

These emerging markets present new opportunities for securing lucrative cannabis real estate. Doing so may give you a leg-up when the markets take off.

Moving Forward With Cannabis Real Estate

With all of the challenges, finding success with cannabis real estate can seem overwhelming, so we’re here to help. At Higher Yields Consulting, we find opportunities whether or not there’s supply because we create supply

We go out, knock on doors, and offer creative deals to property owners in green zones. This not only ensures the functionality of the industry but also builds generational wealth for property owners and their families.

Part of making the industry effective also involves tearing down the stigma that surrounds marijuana. By bringing the community together and giving back, we’re building a new, positive image for the cannabis industry.

Are you looking to secure real estate for your operation? Reach out today and get started!