Culture Shift: MLB is the first major professional sports league to form a sponsorship agreement with a CBD company – and it won’t be the last

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Major League Baseball – baseball, America’s pastime, the godfather of American sports – will promote products from the cannabis company Charlotte’s Web under a $30 million three-year deal announced last month.

The partnership makes the Colorado-based publicly-listed company “the official CBD of Major League Baseball,” and so we’ll see their products on the MLB Network, on streaming digital channels and during post-season games including the World Series.

The company’s website now carries the MLB logo and promotes the positive health effects of its hemp-derived CBD – oils, gummies and creams – as products that reduce stress, help you sleep, and relieve muscle pain.  

Interestingly, MLB has also invested in Charlotte’s Web: under the partnership agreement MLB now owns just over 6 million shares of the company (whose stock price jumped nearly 25% after the announcement), and in return the company will pay MLB a 10% royalty on any product it sells that has MLB branding on it after the total sales exceed $18 million.

Importantly, baseball’s foray into the cannabis space is more than just a lucrative joint venture, it’s also  part of a broader cultural shift towards better health, driven by the public, politicians, as well as business.   

For instance, support for the legalization of cannabis is now at a record high 68%, and for the first time ever, more people use cannabis than smoke cigarettes. Most states have legalized either or both of the medical and recreational use of cannabis. And for the upcoming midterms, voters in five states, including four that are among the most conservative in the country, are deciding whether to legalize recreational cannabis. The feds are the laggards, but there too we’re seeing a shift as legislation is pending in both the House and the Senate to either decriminalize or legalize cannabis.

And then there’s alcohol: an emerging literature says it carries all kinds of significant health risks; for example, that even moderate drinking ages the brain – regardless of whether it’s whiskey or wine.

All things considered, it seems only a matter of time before major league football, basketball, and hockey explore, in the words of MLB, “the possibilities [a] partnership offers as CBD becomes a more widely adopted part of the health and wellness regimen of our players and fans.”

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