Gone are the days where marijuana and cannabis medicine are associated with the negative stigma of “stoner culture.” What once was a symbol of laziness and as low paced lifestyle has now become a beacon of hope within healthcare, a cornerstone in the fitness and wellness industries, and even a central component for top-tier professional athletes.
Thanks to the outspoken (and frankly, quite brave) moves of certain athletes (UFC fighter Nate Diaz, for instance), rules and regulations are changing, stigmas are being shed, and athletes are not only getting better access to natural recovery medicine — they’re paving the way for others to do the same. Olympic athletes are now officially allowed to use CBD; a major move that has emboldened many athletes to step forward and publicly share their cannabis use without fear.
Sarah Shaver, Offroad Racer and Canna Hemp X Ambassador
The next iteration? The Wheaties Box/Gatorade sponsorship of the hemp industry. Athletes are now becoming “sponsored” by CBD brands, leading them to be the face of their chosen cannabis company. This furthers the destigmatization, normalizing CBD while showing the public that cannabis isn’t all about getting blazed, playing video games, and eating Cheetos (power to you if it is, though).
If you actually think about it for say, 30 seconds, it all makes sense. CBD is known to help with pain management and inflammation (a huge component in an athlete’s life), and it can aid with recovery, allowing athletes to train harder and better, and potentially for more years. Given how much of a beating their bodies take, it’s shocking that CBD hasn’t come into the picture sooner.
One brand that’s really walking the walk in this arena is Canna Hemp X. SVN spoke with CHX’s brand director, Paul Kobriger, about the company's decision to bring sponsored athletes on board. From Kobriger’s perspective, it was a no brainer; with his background at TransWorld Skateboarding (BTW one SVN’s co-founders is the former publisher of TransWorld Skateboarding), where company sponsorships were the name of the game in that industry.
As a marketer, Kobriger believes “Your ambassadors are your brand. They’re what will attract consumers to your products.” He knows the product plays a role, too, but the differentiator often times is the face of the product. “You ultimately have to have great products to be successful, but impactful campaigns are built around your ambassadors.”
It’s a little different when it comes to athletes representing something medicinal — for Kobriger, that meant selecting people who aren’t just Insta-famous. “We want to work with athletes that not only truly use and love the products, but those who are also aligned with our vision and brand ethos,” he explained. “Our ambassadors endorse our products because they work better than anything else that’s ever been available to them.”
These ambassadors span the expanse of action sports: skateboarders, BMXers, snowboarders, and motocross athletes. “These sports are all really hard on the body, and nobody likes taking Ibuprofen every day,” he said. (Your stomach and liver also don’t like taking Ibuprofen every day). “We have ambassadors in all these sports and more, and they give us feedback and ideas that we value and use to develop new and better products.”
Said products will be represented by some of the most iconic athletes in the industry, including Tony Hawk. Hawk said, “The Birdhouse CBD Balm is our first collaboration with the team at Canna Hemp X and was created with skateboarders and athletes of all levels in mind.” Why those athletes? According to Hawk, “Sports like skateboarding require the highest quality recovery products to sustain longevity,” he said. “We also hope to create awareness of the potential of CBD and in making natural products more accessible nationwide.”Professional Skateboarder, Tony Hawk. Canna Hemp X Ambassador. ©Chris Dangaard
Canna Hemp X is also working with Torey Pudwill, Clive Dixon, David Loy, as well as amateur skaters and professional MMA fighters. “We will look to build teams across our main focus sports, which are skate, BMX, moto, and snow.”
Kobriger also knows how big of a deal these athlete ambassadorships are for the destigmatization of cannabis in general. “The fact that our Grizzly CBD Recovery Cream and our Birdhouse CBD Balm are available at Zumiez is a pretty big milestone for the industry.” Both for the cannabis industry and the action sports industry. “Zumiez was attracted to the brand primarily through our association with Torey [Pudwill] and Grizzly. Now that Tony Hawk has been posting and talking about his experience and the benefits of CBD for the past couple weeks, the masses are definitely noticing.”
Kobriger says that “[Tony]’s getting a ton of interview requests from very mainstream news outlets [about the CBD products],” which is great news for normalizing CBD. “Complete cannabis destigmatization may take a little longer, but as far as CBD goes, I think 2020 will be the year the genie came all the way out.”