Marijuana and Sports

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Ever since the recreational use of weed was legalized in the states of Colorado and Washington I’ve wondered how it might affect athletes and sports in those areas. Would athletes be able to smoke as much as they want whenever they cross the states borders? Imagine a United States where the use of marijuana is legal in all 50 states. Athletes whether in college or playing professionally get a ton of publicity for everything they do and are idols to youth across the world. They’re essentially trendsetters. Would seeing Kobe Bryant smoke a joint on television change the general attitude towards marijuana and inspire basketball players across the world to follow? Many think weed would destroy the integrity of sports and would prevent the best product from being on the field or court. The questions can also be flipped around. Could smoking weed benefit athletes? In the end, is it even a really big of a deal? Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant. All forms of marijuana, including the stronger sensemilla and hashish varieties, are mind-altering (psychoactive) drugs. They all contain THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana that effects changes in the brain of the user. Minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke users will begin to feel its physiological effects. When it was announced that the states of Colorado and Washington were now legalizing weed it made big headlines in the 2012 presidential election. It shouldn’t be too surprising that it happened though considering how large the weed business is in those areas. Professor Elizabeth Jacobs has performed research on the amount of marijuana usage in the states that have legalized medical marijuana compared to Amsterdam where the use of weed is completely legal. The research showed that when compared, there were no differences in the amount of drugs used. So even though weed isn’t completely legal in the US it’s being used just as much in places where it is legal. She then sought to find out whether there were differences between states that have legal medical marijuana laws compared to states that do not. She decided to collect data from the states that showed how much illegal weed was seized in the past year. There was no statistical difference between states with and without legalized marijuana in terms of the illegal marijuana seized. “The results of this study show that it is likely that the legalization of marijuana has no measured differences in the extent to which marijuana is illegally used…This would show whether there is a greater need for more effective law enforcement in states with legalized medical marijuana, and the government could allocate funds accordingly. From the data currently available however, there is no higher rate of illegal marijuana usage in states with legalized marijuana, and there may be fewer negative effects of passing such a law than its opponents anticipated.” Do some athletes smoke weed to enhance performance? Linda Cusmano writer for states that smoking weed has scientifically been proven to hurt athletic performance. Its effects would make the athlete less agile, meaning slower to react to the physical movements needed to perform at a high level. The athlete would also likely feel paranoia and a lazy feeling. She also mentions that weed doesn’t have the same effect on everybody. One theory that would oppose Linda Cusmano is the idea is that the ability of weed to calm nerves gives the athlete a slight advantage. Other theories on potential benefits from marijuana surround its ability to alleviate stress and relax. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has done a bit of research and stated that, “Research showed that cannabinoids can allow athletes to better focus and diminish stress.” Surprisingly, not a lot of research has been done on the subject. Zarda believes scientists assume they know what smoking pot will do to...
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