Charlotte’s Web is going to the majors.
Major League Baseball and the Colorado-based hemp and CBD company recently announced that Charlotte’s Web will become the official CBD provider for the MLB. This marks the first partnership between a cannabis brand and one of the four major sports leagues in the United States, and it’s a big step for a business built on the story of a little girl.
Named after Charlotte Figi, a child medical marijuana patient, Charlotte’s Web rose to prominence as a high-CBD strain in the early 2010s. Figi and the strain appeared on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Weed documentary on CNN, helping ignite America’s interest and acceptance of CBD, a non-intoxicating compound found in marijuana and hemp. Figi, who passed away in 2020 at age thirteen with COVID-19-related symptoms, suffered from a rare form of epilepsy. After being treated with CBD oil extracted from her namesake strain, however, she no longer required a feeding tube to eat, and her family reported that CBD had nearly eliminated her seizures.
As Charlotte’s Web gained national prominence, the seven brothers who’d developed the strain in Colorado Springs — Josh, Joel, Jesse, Jon, Jordan, Jared and J. Austin Stanley — launched a hemp and CBD company named after the strain, which became one of the most popular names in the industry.
Now a publicly traded company involved in the beverage, hemp, CBD and licensed marijuana industries, Charlotte’s Web has faced several challenges along the way, both from the feds and disgruntled medical marijuana patients. The company remains active in the cannabis advocacy space, however, with the Stanley brothers launching a new grant program that provides families with year-long supplies of Charlotte’s Web oil and formulated products.
As scientific interest in CBD increased in the late 2010s, the public learned of the cannabinoid’s potential to treat other illnesses and ailments, such as joint pain, inflammation and anxiety. CBD products marketed as aids in athletic recovery are now one of the most popular sub-categories in the CBD sector, but until recently, CBD companies had to look outside the current roster of major sports leagues for partners.
While the United States Food and Drug Administration still doesn’t regulate CBD, that hasn’t stopped the industry from topping $4 billion in sales this year, and professional sports are starting to follow the money. Months before the MLB became the first major sports league to announce a CBD deal, the National Basketball Player’s Association, responsible for representing the approximately 450 players in the NBA, agreed to a CBD partnership with Viola Brands, a Denver-based cannabis company founded by former Denver Nugget Al Harrington.
The Big 3, a professional basketball league founded by rapper Ice Cube, also allows CBD partnerships, as do a handful of smaller professional sports leagues. College athletic programs have embraced CBD partnerships as well; the University of Colorado Boulder brought on a hemp and CBD brand as a sponsor last year.
MLB announced that teams and players could partner with CBD brands in June, but only if the CBD brands were certified for sports by the National Sanitation Foundation, a program that checks product ingredients and tests for unsafe levels of contaminants, prohibited substances or masking agents. Charlotte’s Web has been providing its products for a university study since last year, giving the company a leg up on the NSF’s checks and balances required for a partnership with America’s pastime.
“Nature is the most intelligent and advanced technology system in our world, and when we work with nature for health and innovate through the lens of community care, we can truly redefine what it means to be well as an athlete. This is game-changing, and I am excited by what we can accomplish with the MLB partnership,” Jared Stanley said on the heels of the announcement.
If there’s a group of athletes whose diets Americans care about, it’s baseball players. While no one will be questioning home run records because of CBD gummies, it will be interesting to see if and how CBD affects player recovery, as MLB players have a 162-game schedule, not counting the playoffs.
“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,” MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden said in a statement announcing the deal.