They’re a new player in a new industry, but Rachael Rapinoe intends to bring a clear message to her presentation at this year’s O’Cannabiz Conference and Expo this April.
Rapinoe, CEO of Oregon-based Mendi, wants the world to know that, in the world of athletics, there is a role for CBD.
If you think the name “Rapinoe” sounds familiar, it is likely because you’ve heard of Megan Rapinoe, her twin sister, who along with the U.S. Women’s national soccer team, won the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Megan is also an ambassador for Mendi.
“Recovery is not just for the pro athlete,” she says. “It’s for the everyday athlete. It’s for acute pain, it’s for chronic pain, it’s for recovering from a really hard lift or a hard run. And it’s for people who aren’t athletes.”
Rapinoe knows a thing or two about pain. The 34-year old played professional soccer in Iceland, and with the United States under-23 team. Playing sports at any level, let alone at international competitions, can take a toll on you physically. Rapinoe suffered torn knee ligaments in 2007, 2008 and 2012, the last of which ended her playing career. The pain associated with a surgically repaired knee led Rapinoe down a path that led to the birth of Mendi.
“After many years of taking opioids because I’ve had knee surgeries, I found that nothing really worked the way I wanted it to,” she explained. “It’s been a lifelong journey. I saw a lot of pro athletes using cannabis for pain, so I tried it and it worked. I shifted my whole mind set.”
In 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its banned substances list. Despite that landmark decision, most professional sports leagues have some restrictions on its use. The National Hockey League and National Football League, for instance, have no specific policy on CBD, and cannabis is prohibited. Major League Baseball removed CBD from its banned substances list in 2019. Other sports, like the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer, continue to prohibit its use.
“I don’t know why there’s any stigma or misinformation,” noted Rapinoe. “At this point you can just Google it. We know it’s not harmful. The science is there. It’s clearly more helpful to you than any over the counter option.”
Rapinoe said professional sports unions are among those groups leading the charge to take CBD off those banned lists. One of the stumbling blocks she acknowledged, however, is the lack of accredited scientific studies.
“The medical community doesn’t deem any of the studies as credible,” she explained. “That’s why we need more research. Controlled research studies so we can determine the proper dosage. It’s a plant. It’s not one size fits all.”
Rapinoe will be in Toronto at the O’Cannabiz Conference and Expo on April 23. Her presentation will focus on the sports applications of CBD and its potential to reduce the use of opioids for pain relief in all athletes.
“It’s important to understand that there’s a role for CBD in athletics,” she said, noting also that transparency is key to the growth of the industry. “If we want to champion this plant we need to do it the right way. There’s a ton of wellness brands out there. Everyone needs to be up front and honest about their products.”