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First professional athlete to compete in USA with medical cannabis exemption

The exemption will allow the use of cannabis as medicine during training and in preparation for competitions.



MMA: Fighter Elias Theodorou with the Canadian flag

MMA fighter Elias Theodorou will be the first professional athlete to compete with a medical cannabis exception.

Elias Theodorou is a top-ranked Canadian middleweight MMA fighter. As well as fighting in the ring, he is dedicated to fighting the stigma of medical cannabis for athletes.

MMA: A banner advert for IMPACT CBD showing a bottle of CBD oil and a torso of a woman

This will mark the first exception for medical cannabis in professional sport in the US. It is also the first-ever American bout to have an in-competition Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for medical cannabis.

The exemption allows the use of cannabis as medicine during training and in preparation for competitions without the risk of being penalised or barred.

The fight will take place on December 18 2021 after Theodorou was granted the TUE earlier this year. It takes place in Colorado which is a legal cannabis state. which happens to be the home of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Cannabis in Colorado has been legal for medical use since 2000.

His first attempts at having his medical cannabis recognised by the USADA failed.


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A post shared by Elias Theodorou (@eliastheodorou)

MMA and Medical cannabis

In a statement, cannabis advocate, Elias said:

“Validating my US Colorado TUE for cannabis with a fight and finish will officially stamp my place in American sporting history as the first sanctioned cannabis athlete. This is a precedent not only for myself but for other athletes in Colorado and other states, which in turn can create a wave of opportunities for other athletes to apply for the same right to medicate with cannabis in competition.”

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He added: “I will commemorate my next fight with an NFT that represents the ‘knockout punch’ to the prohibition in athletics, validating my therapeutic use exemption means.”

Theodorou started using cannabis to treat pain associated with bilateral neuropathy. It followed an accident that left his hand broken in two places and fractured in a further four. He also suffers from nerve damage in his upper body. He started on prescribed painkillers such as opioids before realising they were detrimental to his MMA training.


Image right: Elias Theodorou Instagram


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CBD guides: Five things every athlete should know about CBD

Athletes may be curious about starting CBD but unsure if it will interfere with their sport or cause them to fail a drugs test



Athletes put a lot of stress and strain on their body while training. If you are curious about trying CBD, here are five answers to some of the most common questions.

What is CBD

CBD is just one of many cannabinoids that exist naturally in the cannabis plant. It is non-psycoactive which means it won’t get you high but it is thought to have many benefits for athletes especially when it comes to post-training pain.

Its available in many different forms from oils and vapes to creams or edibles. Choosing the right CBD for you depends on personal preference, lifestyle and what you are trying to treat.

Athlete: A banner advert for IMPACT CBD showing a bottle of CBD oil and a torso of a woman

Is CBD a banned substance in sport?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from their list of prohibited substances. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) also removed CBD.

It is worth noting that THC is still a banned substance as well as synthetic cannabinoids that have simular effects. The ban on THC is what led to Sha’ Carri Richardson being forced to miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive. WADA is set to review the ban this year although it will remain in place for at least 2022.

There should be very low quantities of THC in legal CBD products. If in doubt, athletes should check the professional body for the sport that they take part in.

What benefits does CBD have for athletes?

Athletes put a lot of stress and strain on the body during training and competitions. CBD may help with inflammation, pain and relaxation.

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Sore muscles are also referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The soreness can happen if you change your routine or start a new exercise programme.

This causes microscopic damage to muscle fibres. It can last up to three to five days after your workout which can be alarming for beginners or some athletes. CBD may help by soothing muscle pain and reducing the inflammation around the damage.

A study on CBD and joint pain found that daily doses may help to reduce the pain. The study focused on rats with arthritis and the CBD treatment was applied as a gel.

Athletes: A row of test tubes containing CBGA oil with a doctors white gloved hand holding one up to the light

What’s the best way for athletes to take CBD?

Topicals such as creams, lotions or gels are a great way to target the exact area of pain. The CBD is absorbed through the skin so it can be faster acting than edibles such as protein bars or drinks.

There are also massage oils that can be incorporated into sports massages that contain high levels of CBD. If lotions or potions aren’t your thing, then patches can be another way to get a dose of CBD. They can be applied directly to the painful area and it is absorbed the same way. However, patches do not leave an oily residue which some creams, lotions or gels may which makes it a better way for athletes to use CBD during training.

Will I fail a drugs test?


When an athlete is testing for drugs, they are not looking for CBD. They are testing for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the blood. This is another cannabinoid and it’s responsible for the high feeling people associate with cannabis.

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If CBD is purchased legally and has lab tests to prove its contents then you should be fine. CBD by law must have below 0.02 per cent THC in order to be sold in the UK. This is an extremely low level of THC which should not be responsible for failing a drugs test.

Some states in the US have legalised THC so it is possible to buy products with THC in them. Some professional sports organisations have announced they are no longer drug testing athletes such as the NBA.

It’s worth knowing the law in your country, and in your state, regarding THC and CBD as well as researching what your sporting organisation allows.

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Cannabis company CiiTECH partners with Israeli rugby team Tel Aviv Heat

The cannabis healthcare company has become the global founder partner and sponsor of the team’s shirts



Tel Aviv Heat is a founder member of the Rugby Europe Super Cup. Photo: Daniel Halac

Israel-based firm, CiiTECH, has teamed up with Rugby team Tel Aviv Heat, a founder member of the Rugby Europe Super Cup.

The partnership sees the cannabis healthcare company become the global founder partner and sponsor of the team’s shirts in their inaugural year on the pitch.

CiiTECH, which has announced its intention to be listed on the London Stock Exchange, has also acquired a minority stake in the team.Sports: A banner advert for IMPACT CBD showing a bottle of CBD oil and a torso of a woman

Clifton Flack, CEO of CiiTECH, which owns leading UK CBD brands Provacan, IMPACT Sports and HuGG, commented: “We are delighted to become Tel Aviv Heat’s Global Founder Partner. Innovation is at the core of CiiTECH’s DNA and Tel Aviv Heat was a truly innovative concept, fast-tracking rugby to become a mainstream sport in Israel. This partnership is a continuation of CiiTECH’s long-standing association with rugby and Israeli rugby in particular.”


In addition to the Israel national team, the new franchise competing in the Super Cup will boost the profile of rugby within Israel.

Photo credit: Daniel A Halac

The tournament is hosted by Rugby Europe and was created to help emerging rugby nations gain valuable professional experience to elevate their skill levels and compete against stronger nations on the rugby pyramid. The Rugby Europe Super Cup launched this year with eight teams, with plans to expand to 16 teams by 2025.


Kevin Musikanth, head coach of the Israeli National Rugby team with over 20 years of coaching experience, has been appointed Director of Rugby at the Tel Aviv Heat.

“As the first pro rugby team out of Israel, the Tel Aviv Heat provides a professional platform with international mentors, providing a pathway for Israeli players to see a future in this great sport,” he said.

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“With the shared vision and support of CiiTECH, the Tel Aviv Heat is certain to succeed on the field as well as off the field within our development program. Huge thanks to Clifton and the CiiTECH team for jumping on board.”

Understanding CBD in high-impact sports

CiiTECH is renowned for its cannabis expertise, which is developed through partnerships with leading researchers, tech companies, and academic institutions. As a result, the company’s brands and its services have a cutting edge on the cannabis market.

Flack said: “We’re excited to be a global partner for Tel-Aviv Heat, strengthening our rugby relationships and providing a platform to further research and understand the benefits of CBD in high-impact sports.”

Pete Sickle, Tel Aviv Heat CEO, added: “As we enter into our very first season, we are excited to launch a strategic partnership between the Tel Aviv Heat and CiiTECH. Both are committed to the core values of innovation, creativity, adaptability and striving for excellence through hard work. We are proud to have CiiTECH on the front of our jerseys and look forward to growing together in the years to come.”


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