Researchers in Marseilles, France have substantiated what we all suspected, cannabis use is strongly associated with the so-called sliding sports: surfing, windsurfing, skiing, sailing and of course, snowboarding. A lot of athletes that practice these sports may do it for the thrill, and cannabis can complement this feeling while simultaneously helping athletes focus.
Public health officials generally see non-medical cannabis use as purely recreational, but researchers at the University of the Mediterranean weren’t completely convinced. Their recent study, “Cannabis use to enhance sportive and non-sportive performances among French sport students” aimed to test the idea that cannabis can be used to manage anxiety and improve focus before a sporting event.
Many people in the booming cannabis culture in the United States have advocated the use of marijuana for “enhancement,” not just for having fun at the movies. Other studies have found that many people use cannabis in what they consider non-recreational settings (i.e. alone, in the morning, before exams) but this new paper may be one of the first to give actual credence to the idea of enhancement.
Through special regulated surveys of second and third year students in six Sport Science Universities in Southern France, researched gained a lot of information about cannabis use amongst those dedicated athletes. Two thirds of respondents had used cannabis at least once, and 40 % were more frequent users. The main motives for use were: relaxation, for its psychoactive effects, and to have more fun with friends. Respondents that used cannabis for relaxation were more likely to use cannabis to enhance their performance when practicing sports. On the other hand, respondents that used cannabis to spend a good time with friends were less likely to use cannabis to enhance their performance in sports. The same group that used cannabis with friends was also more likely to be involved in competitions on the national or international level.
They found a strong association between practicing a sliding sport and using cannabis to enhance performance in sports. Previous research also found a correlation between cannabis use and these same sports amongst adolescents, but without looking at adults.
While none of us need an explanation for why a snowboarder might smoke a joint on a ski lift, or surfer on the beach, how did these French researchers rationalize it?
“Both sliding sports and drug use may be impelled by sensation-seeking: to get thrilled, to search for exhilaration. In addition, our findings suggest that cannabis use and sliding sports may not be two independent ways to seek sensations, but rather that cannabis could be used as an adjunct to sensation-seeking during sliding sport practice.”
Stoner-athletes beware; as marijuana’s effects of enhancement on sports continue to gain further recognition, drug testers may be forced to step up their game and actively seek it out, in addition to the more standard performance-enhancing drugs like stimulants and anabolic steroids.