Liz Carmouche is a pioneer for female athletes. She’s competed in Madison Square Garden and fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) first-ever women’s bout. Now, she’s ready to make her mark on another industry; cannabis. We sat down with Carmouche to learn more about the role cannabis is now playing in her fighting career.
Meet Liz Carmouche
Carmouche — aka the Girl-illa —was born in Louisiana, and grew up in Okinawa, Japan. She became one of the first females to introduce mixed martial arts (MMA) to the UFC when she competed against Ronda Rousey for the UFC’s inaugural women’s title fight in 2013. That night Carmouche also became “[…] the first openly gay fighter to compete inside the famous cage,” reported MMAMania.com.
The fight, Rousey explained to MMAJunkie reporters, was one of the toughest of her career; “That was the most vulnerable a position I’ve been in so far […],” she said of Carmouche’s neck crank. Though Rousey took the title, Carmouche went on to become one of the sport’s fastest rising stars.
She currently ranks sixth in the UFC’s female flyweight division where she holds a 12-6-0 record (wins-losses-draws). She holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
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Words can’t explain but I’ll do my best. I am so honored to train with everyone in the #10thplanet system. Today I received my black belt because of the amazing team I work with every day. The talent that I’m learning starts at the very top with @eddiebravo10p down to all the white belts. Thank you @boogeyman_tfs @freakahzoidtfs @kevinberbrich @pbarch10p for leading all of us and paving the road by example. Everyday I am humbled and thankful to be a part of @10thplanetfreaks
Her first introduction to MMA came in 2010. By March 2011, Carmouche fought for Strikeforce’s Women’s Welterweight Championship title against Marloes Coenen. Coenen defeated Carmouche in the fourth round via submission (triangle choke).
“It was a loss, but I learned a lot from that experience,” she said. She’d only trained for a few months prior to the match against Marloes, who had a decade of experience over Carmouche. Still, she kept Marloes on her feet. “I held my own,” she continued, “It showed me that this is a sport I needed to pursue.”
Martial arts became a way for Carmouche to stay active after she left the military. Gym routines became monotonous, she explained, “I was bored of running and lifting weights.” She tired MMA and was immediately hooked.
Flying the Flag for the LGBT Community
Being an out, female fighter has positively impacted her — though she’s faced adversity along the way.
Carmouche served in the United States Marine Corps for more than five years. She worked as an aviation electrician and did three tours of duty in the Middle East. She served under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era, which lasted from 1994-2011. The experience, she told GLAAD.org in 2013, was stressful; “I had to be very guarded all the times. […] I couldn’t even be open about myself even with my best friend in the Marines.”
She vowed never to hide who she was again. When she became a professional fighter she held to that promise. The UFC and her fans embraced it. The organization’s president, Dana White, publicly expressed his support and encouraged others to do the same.
“In the beginning,” Carmouche said, “I heard through the grapevine that I missed out on sponsorship opportunities [because some companies] didn’t want to sponsor an openly out athlete.” Ultimately, she added, “it didn’t play a role in my life. I am who I am; I’m not willing to compromise that […].”
Carmouche now serves as a representative for the UFC and LGBT community. She’s helped to establish the LGBT Center in Las Vegas, and joined forces with UFC hall of famer, Forrest Griffin, as a spokesperson for the “Protect Yourself at All Times” campaign.
CBD and the UFC
She’s also raising awareness about the benefits of cannabis as a representative for Hempmeds, a CBD hemp oil company. The company and its products play an important role in her journey as a fighter.
“I love [their] topical and salves and their active roll-ons are like Icy Hot — I live off of those,” Carmouche said. She automatically applies it when she gets out of training to relieve pain and inflammation.
Carmouche was hesitant when cannabis was first recommended to her. “I didn’t know what it was,” she explained, “I did my own research, and I found out just how beneficial it can be for athletes or for anyone with injuries they’re trying to combat.”
Joe Rogan — MMA commentator, and host of the podcasts, “The Joe Rogan Experience” — said that cannabis use is common in the UFC. Fighters, including Nick and Nate Diaz, Joe Jones, and Jake Shields (among others) openly advocate for its use.
The UFC recognizes the benefits of certain cannabinoids. In fact, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the UFC officially removed CBD from their list of banned substances (THC and other cannabinoids remain prohibited).
Carmouche believes that combat athletes have much to gain from CBD.
As fighters, “we take so much impact and destruction to our bodies; we need to find something to take care,” Carmouche explained.
Research shows CBD is an effective neuroprotector; relieves pain; and has antispasmodic qualities. One study published in the “Journal of Bone and Mineral Research” suggests the cannabinoid helps heal bones, too.
Yet some athletes are too quick to take excessive amounts of ibuprofen or medications (like cortisone shots) to ease injuries, which have consequences. “They are bad for your liver and teeth,” she said, “CBD doesn’t have any side effects. Athletes realize that more and more.”
Carmouche also believes CBD hold benefits for veterans, too. “That’s who I learned [the value of cannabis] from,” she added, “CBD can absolutely help veterans because its helped me, and I’ve seen it help others.”
PGA Tour Golfer Matt Every Suspended Over Medical Cannabis Use
A statement released on Friday confirms that Matt Every has a 3-month suspension for violating the Tour’s conduct policy on drugs of abuse.
The PGA has confirmed that professional golfer, Matt Every, has been suspended for 12 weeks, due to a violation of its Conduct Policy on drugs of abuse, effective from Friday, October 19.
Every will be eligible to return January 7 and will miss only three tournaments for which he would have been eligible — the Bermuda Championship, the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico and the RSM Classic at Sea Island.
In a statement sent to GolfChannel.com, Every confirmed he has tested positive for cannabis, but it was a legal prescription — prescribed in Florida, where he resides — to treat his mental health.
“I have been prescribed cannabis for a mental health condition by my physician whom has managed my medical care for 30 years,” Every said. “It has been determined that I am neither an acceptable candidate to use prescription “Z” class drugs nor benzodiazepines.
“Additionally, these classes of drugs can be highly addictive and harmful to the human body and mind. For me, cannabis has proven to be, by far, the safest and most effective treatment.”
Being aware of the Tour’s policy before he violated it, the 35-year-old said he has “no choice but to accept this suspension and move on.”
“I knew what WADA’s [World Anti-Doping Agency] policy was and I violated it,” Every said. “I don’t agree with it for many reasons, mainly for my overall well-being, but I’m excited for what lies ahead in my life and career. Over the last few years I have made massive strides and I know my best is still in front of me. I can’t wait to come back better than ever in January.”
The two-times Tour winner is now the seventh player to be suspended under the Tour’s policy against drugs of abuse that was implemented in 2008. It follows the three-month ban of Robert Garrigus in March of this year.
Despite being medically and recreationally legal in many states, cannabis is still listed as a banned substance under the Tour’s anti-doping policy.
The Tour said it would have no further comment on the suspension.
CBD Sponsorship of Professional Motocross Takes Another Step Forward
CBD sponsorship is making moves in professional motocross and supercross, once again, after progress stalled in early 2019.
For those living under a rock, CBD aka cannabidiol is one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. But, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn’t offer a high. The latter’s strengths are helping to treat serious conditions such as epilepsy, to controlling anxiety, helping manage pain, aid in muscle recovery, better sleep and overall wellness.
Certain attributes — such as recovery, sleep and overall wellness — has seen professional athletes add CBD to training programs. That has seen the rise of cannabis advocates in a wide scope of sports, whether stick-and-ball (like hockey, football and baseball), through to action sports that sit out of the mainstream (like MMA and motocross).
It has also seen an influx of cannabis advocates, like MMA’s Bas Rutten and motocross stars Carey Hart and Chad Reed, all using that ‘legend’ status in each sport to help educate fans and followers about the benefits of CBD.
While the likes of Hart and Reed continue to share their belief in CBD on social media, it only goes so far in motocross, with its use and marketing leading to controversy in the pro motocross racing scene.
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There was no problem with racers being sponsored and supported by CBD companies until February 2019, which was when supported athletes were censored during broadcasts of Monster Energy AMA Supercross. The ban prohibited the logos of CBD companies, enforced by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) after it was brought to the attention of Feld Motor Sports, the promoter of the series.
The problem was not the use of CBD by the athletes, but the two logos of CBD brands — Ignite and cbdMD — visible on bikes and riders during broadcasts on NBC. The first to be censored was Dean Wilson, who was told to cover the Ignite logos, followed by Chad Reed being forced to censor the cbdMD logos on his helmet.
There were inconsistencies with the ban and censorship, depending on where the racing took place (such as Texas, where CBD is still not legal). To add more confusion, both the AMA and The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) allows racers to use CBD since it is not on the prohibited list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
But There Has Been Progress
The AMA posted a bulletin that outlines how CBD will be handled in 2020 and beyond.
Again, these steps are related to the displaying of logos at the races, whether in the pits, on the bike or the gear (especially if seen during television broadcasts).
Due to recent changes in state laws, limited hemp-based cannabidiol “CBD” product sponsorships at certain onsite event locations during the upcoming 2020 Supercross season will be allowed subject to the following requirements and restrictions contained herein.
But there are requirements to the eligibility, with the “CBD products must be derived from hemp and contain less than .3% THC,” and “any logos or signage that include or relate to cannabis are prohibited.” Of course, “CBD product sponsorships are void in whole or in part wherever prohibited by law.”
That means signage or promotional displays for CBD related products are to be permitted in the pit areas of the 2020 series. But the distribution or sale of any CBD related products or samples would be strictly prohibited.
The broadcast restrictions are still uncertain. For now, the AMA states that “no rider, team or sponsor should assume that any promotional displays of CBD product on the track that may be captured by the broadcast will be allowed until further notice.” That means riders will run the risk of the being censored or removed from competition.
These policies will remain in effect until further notice. But the AMA has stated the policies are “not intended to be all-inclusive and may be amended, appended, or rescinded in whole or in part at any time for any reason without advance notice.”
The real question is should professional athletes making more from sponsorship than purse money have further censorship due to prior restraint?
Former Patriots Star Rob Gronkowski Enters CBD Game
If there’s one thing football fans know for sure, it’s that former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is always up to something.
Whether it’s partying on a boat, dominating on the gridiron or appearing in another commercial, the guy sure knows how to keep busy.
Now, after the five-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl winner retired at the age of 30 last offseason, he’s back in the public spotlight. This time, he’s getting into the CBD business.
Gronk signed on with Rhode Island-based Abacus Health Products, giving him a stake in the company and making him the face of a line of products set to be revealed in early 2020.
While there’s surely a business component to this partnership, Gronk insists he decided to get involved with CBD products after personally seeing the impact they can have on pain, telling the press he was “blown away with how well it worked. I am pain-free, and that is a big deal.”
“[The injuries] took an absolute beating on my mind and my soul. I was hurt both mentally and physically, day in and day out,” Gronk said. “I decided to walk away from the game for one reason: I had to recover.”
Recovery was a prime concern for Gronk after his retirement. After dealing with near-constant injuries nine surgeries during his illustrious pro football career, Gronk talked about the need to rest, recharge and help his body recover from the beating it takes during games.
“I’m advocating for CBD to be acceptable for all players for recovery,” Gronk said during a press conference. “You can just call me Mr. Recovery. You know you like that name. Mr. Recovery, baby.”
Gronk recalled a stretch in time after a Super Bowl victory where despite playing a great game and winning a championship, it paid a tremendous toll on his body.
“I was in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory. It didn’t make much sense to me,” said Gronkowski. “I couldn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes a night, after a Super Bowl win. And I was like damn, this sucks. It didn’t feel right.”
While Gronk didn’t completely close the door on his NFL career, teasing fans with the possibility of a comeback depending on how his body feels, he made it clear he wouldn’t come back unless the NFL changed its tune on CBD for athlete recovery.
“To come back, they’re going to have to legalize CBD in the NFL,” he said. “No matter what I say, people are still going to say I’m coming back —so, I’m coming back, but I’m not.”
While the NFL has yet to lift its rigid ban on CBD products, as the UFC has, the science is on the athlete’s side. CBD has a proven impact on pain management and athlete recovery that simply can’t be denied at this point. With the recent trend of elite NFL athletes like Gronk and former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck hanging up their cleats early due to countless injuries and never-ending rehab, the NFL might want to consider natural pain-management solutions like CBD.
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