July 26, 2019 2:05 pm
Updated: July 26, 2019 8:56 pm

Aurora Cannabis partners with UFC to research CBD use to manage pain in MMA athletes

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton-based Aurora Cannabis has teamed up with the UFC on a new research project. Vinesh Pratap explains.


An Edmonton-based cannabis company has partnered with UFC on a unique research project looking into the use of hemp-derived CBD as a possible treatment for mixed martial arts athletes.

CBD, or cannabidiol, comes from the cannabis plant but it doesn’t get you high like THC does.

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The partnership between Aurora Cannabis and Ultimate Fighting Championship is expected to produce multiple studies on how CBD could be used for pain, inflammation, wound-healing and recovery for MMA athletes.

“It’s what we’re doing first, but I believe all sports are going to be involved in this too. And it’s massive,” Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White said.

“We’re starting out. We’re going to start doing the research with the athletes… This is going to be a big deal.”

READ MORE: CBD: Why people are turning to this popular pot product

The goal of the research is to understand the health and recovery needs of elite athletes in a highly competitive sport like MMA. The data will be used to “drive the development of science-backed, hemp-derived CBD topicals that will be safe and reliable.”

The UFC said CBD is allowed under USADA and WADA regulations, but the organization wants to be the leaders on educating its athletes on its use.

“Would you rather have these guys taking pain pills, sleeping pills?” White said.

Watch below: What is CBD and why are people using it?

The clinical study will be done at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. The project will be led by Dr. Jason Dyck, chair of Aurora’s Global Scientific Oversight Committee; Dr. Kelly Narine, Aurora’s vice-president of Global Research and Medical Affairs; and the team of sports performance experts at the UFC Performance Institute.

“Our partnership with UFC is about committing to the science that will educate and advocate,” Aurora CEO Terry Booth said.

“We are going to work together to change the way people think, to change the industry and to launch the first hemp-derived CBD products that are backed by scientific research. The brand-building and product development are all part of our move into the U.S., and in collaboration with UFC, and we intend to play a major role in that market.”

READ MORE: Alberta heavyweight Tanner ‘The Bulldozer’ Boser ready for UFC debut in Edmonton

The vice dean with the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta sees the collaboration as another step in growing a company. Kyle Murray said legalization opens up all kinds of opportunities, not just to sell and produce, but to research and better understand cannabis.

“I think it’s very important. I think it is something we have to do to establish the industry as something credible.”

READ MORE: Retailers struggle to keep popular cannabis extract CBD on shelves in Canada

While he was somewhat surprised to see this partnership, Murray said it’s an interesting group of athletes to look at because of the nature of their competition.

“They’re often injured, they’re often recovering from injury, they’re training at a very high level. So this is an interesting sample, if you will, to test CBD within,” he said.

“They want to know, ‘Is it good for the athletes? Is it bad for them? Does it help them? Is it performance enhancing?’ These are all questions we don’t have answers to because it hasn’t been legal.”

UFC athletes will be asked to participate in the study on a voluntary basis.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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