The New York Media Softball League (NYMSL)—which has teams representing The Wall Street Journal, High Times and BuzzFeed among its ranks—is one of the latest athletic organizations to embrace the cannabis industry, launching a new sponsorship deal with a Kentucky-based CBD company.
Cornbread Hemp will become a sponsor of the media league, joining its playoff series in September and providing players with hats embroidered by the company’s logo and samples of its CBD products such as gummies and topicals.
The idea behind the collaboration was inspired by moves by Major League Baseball (MLB) and certain teams like the Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs that have also recently partnered with CBD businesses.
MLB itself announced its league-wide partnership with a popular CBD brand last year. Charlotte’s Web Holdings, one of the most recognizable hemp-derived CBD companies in the country, signed the deal with league to become the “Official CBD of MLB.”
NYMSL Commissioner Steve Bloom, who is a former High Times editor and now runs the site CelebStoner, said in a press release that he was “surprised” to receive a pitch on the partnership from the CBD company’s co-founder, but “we’re actually the perfect league for Cornbread Hemp to get the ball rolling.”
Cornbread’s Jim Higdon, an author and former journalist himself, said that the league’s players “represent an important segment of Cornbread Hemp’s customer base—active adults dealing with the aches and pains that come from exercise-induced inflammation.”
“And it doesn’t hurt that they work for some of the best news outlets in America,” he said of NYMSL, which is also comprised of teams representing Chartbeat, Forbes and Euromoney Institutional Investor.
“Our mission at Cornbread Hemp is to improve the quality of our customers’ lives,” CEO Eric Zipperle said. ”This partnership gives us the opportunity to share that mission with the players of the New York Media Softball League.”
— NYMSL (@NYMSL) July 4, 2023
The league’s commissioner added, “I know our players will benefit from the effects of CBD provided by Cornbread Hemp.”
“Athletes have been at the forefront of the movement to use cannabinoids, rather than pharmaceuticals, to treat sports injuries,” he said. “Our players have similar needs and are happy that Cornbread Hemp has stepped up to the plate to make this historic relationship happen.”
Outside of the softball media league and MLB, cannabis has also been represented in a congressional softball league in Washington, D.C.. A team called the “One Hitters,” comprised of drug policy reform advocates that has been sponsored by a Colorado cannabis company, were well ahead of the curve as they played in several series of the Softball Team of the U.S. (STOTUS).
The rules around marijuana for professional athletes, meanwhile, have been rapidly evolving as more states have enacted legalization.
For example, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its players union recently signed a collective bargaining agreement that removes marijuana from the league’s banned substances list and lays out rules allowing players to invest in and promote cannabis brands—with certain exceptions.
The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) committee focused on promoting health and wellness for student athletes has proposed to remove marijuana from the organization’s banned substances list.
Earlier this year, Nevada sports regulators voted to send a proposed regulatory amendment to the governor that would formally protect athletes from being penalized over using or possessing marijuana in compliance with state law.
UFC announced in 2021 that they would no longer be punishing fighters over positive marijuana tests.
The National Football League’s (NFL) drug testing policy changed demonstrably in 2020 as part of a collective bargaining agreement.
NFL and its players union also announced last month that they are jointly awarding another round of funding to support independent research on the therapeutic benefits of CBD as a pain treatment alternative to opioids for players with concussions.