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Monday, Dec 6, 2021
Mugglehead Magazine
Cannabis & psychedelics industry news based in Vancouver, B.C.
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Medical and Pharmaceutical

MMA fighter’s cannabis exemption in Colorado could be game-changing for pro athletes

The first recognition of medical cannabis by a US sporting regulator charts a course for other professional athletes

MMA fighter's cannabis exemption in Colorado could be game-changing for pro athletes
After being granted a therapeutic use exemption in BC, Theodorou won last March at the Rise Fighting Championship 6 against Matt Dwyer, medicating for the first time on fight day. Submitted photo

Another victory has been secured by MMA fighter Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou, this time for an exemption to use medical cannabis in Colorado, the first of its kind to be granted to a professional athlete in the United States.

The exemption is important to Theodorou — who chooses to medicate his bilateral neuropathy with cannabis instead of opioids — but also for other athletes who would rather use weed than a host of other pharmaceuticals to manage symptoms during competition.

This is a precedent that Elias is rightfully proud of, explains Erik Magraken, managing partner at MacIsaac & Company and Theodorou’s legal counsel.

“He has been fighting the stigma of cannabis in sport and cannabis as medicine for years and getting the first U.S. athletic commission to recognize his medical rights in granting a [therapeutic use exemption] is a huge leap forward that can assist many other athletes,” Magraken said in a statement.

This is the first time a state-sanctioned sporting regulator has considered cannabis a medicine and approved its use in competition, Theodorou explains.

MMA fighter's cannabis exemption in Colorado could be game-changing for pro athletes - Elias Theodorou

‘Professional sports cause a lot of challenges like injury and pain. Opioids are readily available and often encouraged to help with pain issues. As someone who has bilateral neuropathy, but not interested in consuming opioids, it is important to continuously advocate for the medicinal benefits of cannabis and our right as athletes to be able to utilize it,’ says MMA athlete and cannabis advocate Elias Theodorou. Submitted photo

He says the process with the Colorado Office of Combative Sports only took a few weeks to complete, and gives thanks to his legal counsel, doctor and the commission.

He also credits his past advocacy work.

On Feb. 19, 2020, Theodorou became the premier professional athlete to receive a therapeutic-use exemption for medical cannabis, which was granted by the British Columbia Athletic Commission, the Canadian province’s official regulator of combat sports.

Read more: Elias Theodorou wants to K.O. cannabis restrictions for athletes

He solidified that exemption with a win in March, the first time he was able to medicate on fight day, and plans to follow suit with his exemption in the states.

“Because I consider myself ‘The Great Canadian Export,’ I look to validate my therapeutic use exemption around the same time that Canada legalized use nationwide [on Oct. 17],” he tells Mugglehead in a phone interview.

“I’m on a two-fight winning streak by finishes and I’d like to finish my next opponent wherever that ends up being — it might be in Colorado — and I look to get my hand raised in dominant fashion just like I do outside of the cage in regards to winning for cannabis, but also to continue winning as a professional fighter.”

 

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