Former female NBA basketballer Lauren Jackson overcame prescription painkiller use with medical cannabis

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Lauren Jackson, the first Australian who was sworn into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, continues making the athletic news headlines even after ending her professional career with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.

A mother of two boys, the acclaimed female basketball player managed to bag three most valuable player (MVP) awards and seven National Basketball Association (NBA) all-star appearances throughout her career.

Jackson, like many other NBA sports stars, endured many injuries during her time playing for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (1997–2016). In an attempt to stay in good shape, she underwent numerous surgeries and was prescribed mounds of painkillers.

Eventually, a degenerative knee injury forced Jackson to retire early. Fortunately, the Australian female basketball player told NBC reporters that she has since successfully managed to relieve chronic pain and quit over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers with medical cannabis.

“It has been incredible. I’ve been open about my battle with prescription medication during my career and when I retired, I went off everything because I wanted to raise my kids and just be the very best version of myself,” Jackson said during the recent interview. 

According to Jackson, medicinal-grade cannabis has helped her immensely to the point where she can comfortably train again, not to mention resume an active lifestyle with her sons.

“It’s something I personally believe in because of how my body has handled it. I just want to help get the message out there and hopefully help change people’s lives,” she added.

Female basketball player Jackson is helping to raise awareness about medical cannabis in sports

Following an outstanding career as a basketball player for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, Jackson was left enduring chronic back, hip and knee pain. Since learning of cannabis’ suitability as a treatment option, the blonde Hall of Famer is intent on sharing her story with others; even her sons.

“I’ve got two little boys who are starting to figure out that mummy was a basketball player and I get to share those stories with them and watch YouTube clips, which is pretty fun,” she said.

Jackson may have even enjoyed a longer career on the basketball court had she been able to merge cannabis into her sporting regimen. In an effort to dissolve the plant’s negative stigma, she has joined the newly-formed Sports Advisory Board, which is operated by Melbourne-headquartered pharmaceutical company Levin Health.

The aim of her role on the board is to raise awareness about the different ways in which cannabis interacts with the body to accomplish ‘homeostasis’ — a process by which biological systems can sustain stability.

It’s not just Jackson who is helping to promote the benefits of using medical cannabis in sports but also, athletes like Kevin Garnett, Kevin Durant, Sha’Carri Richardson and Elias Theodorou, the latter of whom recently won his first U.S. fight as a cannabis-sanctioned pro athlete.

USADA is striving to balance anti-cannabis efforts in the sporting world

The USADA published the following statement on its website after Sha’Carri Richardson was sanctioned for one month and disqualified from the Olympics after returning a positive test for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) back in July:

“Inclusion of Cannabinoids, including [cannabis], on the Prohibited List has been vigorously debated since WADA’s inception back in 2003. Many now support it being removed since the list should be primarily about performance-enhancing substances and because marijuana is widely available in certain countries. However, many also agree from a sport health and safety standpoint that it should remain on the list to prevent possible impairment and serious injuries during competition.” 

However, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for which the USADA is a signatory maintains control over the Code, the Prohibited List and International Standards. For now, only when an athlete has an approved Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) can he or she use any of the substances on the WADA’s Prohibited List.

Failure to obtain TUE approval may result in the athlete facing an anti-doping rule violation and sanction. On the plus side, as more U.S. states legalize/decriminalize cannabis, the USADA has noted that it may be “time to revisit the issue.” 

“While the new Substances of Abuse provisions allow for reductions in sanctions for recreational drug use not connected to sport performance, athletes remain responsible for all substances they ingest,” the USADA added.