In sports where there is a great degree of physical contact, the body can end up enduring a lot of pain and injury over the span of one athlete’s career. This is no surprise to anybody who follows a contact sport on a regular basis and has witnessed the accidents that can occur on the field. Despite the fact that players are finely-tuned athletes with greater strength and endurance achieved via training, they are still very much human and put their bodies under great duress. This is not new information, but what is new is the outcry of athletes and former athletes urging sports agencies to reconsider their stances on marijuana use.
We’ve seen this taking place already among retired players in the NFL, who wish to see marijuana advocated for in alternative to highly addictive and dangerous opioid painkillers. Now there are fighters in the UFC, or the Ultimate Fighting Championship, urging for the same in their own sport.
Kevin Gastelum is an up-and-comer in the world of UFC fighting, and is also advocating for the organization to amend its rules regarding marijuana use for fighters. Currently, they can lose their eligibility to fight if a drug test yields a positive result. Gastelum is currently on a three-month suspension from the UFC for this offense, which will expire on June 10th, 2017.
The drug test came after a fight in Brazil, after which he tested positive for THC. Initially Gastelum had been issued a six-month suspension, but it was reduced down to three months.
Even if they use the plant in states where recreational or medical marijuana is legal, fighters can still face penalties in their careers. The rules are considered restrictive and downright strange. If marijuana is legal in a state, then why should any person be banned from using it?
Marijuana helps with pain and eases the mental and physical stress that these athletes endure for their high-contact careers. Gastelum called in to the SiriusXM radio show The Luke Thomas Show on Thursday to discuss the details of his opinion on marijuana use for in-competition athletes. When asked why he uses the plant, Gastelum said:
“I feel like it helps for sure with my training. Apart from the recreational, it does have benefits for my recovery, for the inflammation in the muscles, and whenever I want to take a mental break and block out all of the crap that goes on everyday. It helps relieve the stress, helps us relax. We go through so much physically and mentally, we need a little break. I need to somehow relax my muscles and somehow to relax the mind.”
That sounds pretty reasonable to this writer. And according to Gastelum, we shouldn’t be surprised if the UFC begins to repeal its outdated rules for marijuana use.
Already, athletes can be granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption to use marijuana during competition. The punishment handed down to Gastelum was because of a lack of this exemption prior to his fight in Brazil.
He is to square up against Chris Weidman in July.
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