Cannabis Use Amongst Elite University Athletes

Friday, 20 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Alec SKILLINGS, University of Alberta, Canada
Cannabis, the arcane yet widely enjoyed resinous psychoactive plant, is presently undergoing a period of legal resurgence throughout North America. Eight states in the U.S. have passed bills to legalize recreational cannabis in the last five years, and in the summer of 2018 the recreational use of cannabis will be legal in Canada nationwide. Cannabis is the most popularly used illicit drug in Canada, and the most recent surveys indicate that university athletes in North America use cannabis. However, these studies go no further than to show that elite university athletes do, indeed, consume cannabis. Presently, the prohibition of cannabis in sports is due to its legal status. Cannabis’ illegality puts its use in conflict with the ‘spirit of sport’, as defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, the rapidly changing legality of cannabis is now calling into question this rationale for its prohibition from sport. Many professional athletes such as Ross Rebagliati and Ricky Williams have advocated for the use of cannabis in various capacities within sport, however it remains to be seen whether the current policies regarding cannabis use will change within sport.

This presentation will discuss the cannabis use of elite Canadian university athletes. How do elite university athletes incorporate cannabis into their athletic lives? How do elite university athletes negotiate the stigmas associated with cannabis use and the perceived benefits of consumption? How will the changes of federal legislation (The Cannabis Act) impact the cannabis use of university athletes. Through qualitative interviews with several elite university athletes these questions will be answered and the emerging discourse of cannabis in sport will be directed through the athlete’s perspective.