This decision makes the BIG3 the first US-based pro sports league to allow cannabidiol (CBD) to be used for pain management.
Created by rapper/actor Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz, the BIG3 is a 3-on-3 basketball league, featuring mostly retired National Basketball Association (NBA) players.
"This is a no-brainer decision," Kwatinetz told CBS Sports. "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."
Referring to the national opioid crisis, Kwatinetz reiterated that CBD is a far less dangerous alternative for pain management. He said the league had been discussing this decision for “at least six months.” The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances for 2018.
"All the players we talked to have been either supportive or use it," Kwatinetz said. "Not everyone uses it or wants to use it, but they are supportive of the right to use it. It's a safe medicine that addresses pain."
The second BIG3 season began last week in Houston. Legalization of CBD usage in the league is effective immediately.
"Hopefully doing this for our players will also send a message out there that we need to make decisions not based on politics but based on medical data and actually treat each other humanely," Kwatinetz said.
“Over the last couple of days, there's been a lot of announcements and stuff like that. There's now a pharmaceutical cannabis drug on the market,” said Harrington referring to recent FDA approval of Epidiolex, a cannabis-derived drug for treating epilepsy.
“The government is trying to allow vets to be able to use cannabis and give 'em more access to cannabis,” continued Harrington. “And then from a sports standpoint, being that the BIG3 will be the first professional league to allow CBD use in the league, I think it's just huge.”