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Major League Baseball signed an exclusive multiyear sponsorship deal with CBD maker Charlotte’s Web Holdings Inc., which it says is the first of its kind for a major professional sports league.
Charlotte’s Web is now the first “Official CBD of Major League Baseball,” the parties said Wednesday in an emailed statement. Products that meet certain safety standards will be able to be promoted across MLB events and media platforms.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana. U.S. spending on CBD oils, gummies and pills has grown rapidly in recent years, even though the compound’s federal legal status is murky.
For baseball, the sponsorship pact could be an opportunity to increase the sport’s popularity with a younger audience. The league’s fan base is among the oldest for professional U.S. sports.
“We are excited about the possibilities this partnership offers as CBD becomes a more widely adopted part of the health and wellness regimen of our players and fans,” Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer, said in the statement.
In June, MLB said it would allow teams to accept CBD sponsorships as long as they are certified by NSF, an independent testing organization, to not have psychoactive levels of THC.
Sports leagues have evolved their thinking when it comes to cannabis. MLB removed marijuana from its list of banned substances in 2019, and other leagues have relaxed rules on testing or player suspensions. While CBD is often marketed as a cannabis product that can bring pain relief without the legal challenges that come with THC, it isn’t yet regulated by the FDA and lacks research on long-term health impacts.
Charlotte’s Web has pushed for the FDA to take on regulation of CBD. The Colorado-based company’s products are distributed through more than 15,000 retailers and 8,000 health-care practitioners, as well as online. It is publicly traded in Canada with a market value of around $130 million (US$96 million). The shares, which are frequently volatile, rose as much as 22 per cent on Wednesday to C$0.84.