Regulations guiding cannabidiol use in the National Hockey League

In the National Hockey League (NHL), drug use is regulated essentially by two policies: the performance-enhancing drug policy and the drug of abuse policy. The performance-enhancing drug policy bans anabolic agents, steroids, stimulants, and growth hormones that are considered to give a player an undue advantage over others on the ice. Currently, cannabinoids are not included in the list of pf substances banned by this policy. As a result, there are no specific regulations guiding cannabidiol use. Cannabis is not considered a performance-enhancing drug by the NHL and, as such, is excluded from NHL’s list of prohibited substances. 

However, the League does not expressly allow the use of cannabis. Under the National Hockey League Players’ Association and the NHL’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) program, players are still tested for cannabinoids. Unlike in other professional leagues, players who test positive for marijuana are not suspended. The result of a positive test for cannabinoids is anonymously sent to the NHL/NHLPA committee for review and policy formation. The player who tests positive for high levels of cannabinoids is punished with a mandatory assessment by a medical expert. The SABH program is designed to help a player navigate the rough course of substance abuse in a confidential approach. Players who repeatedly present with dangerously high levels of cannabinoids in their system can eventually lead to a suspension. 


National Hockey League players using cannabidiol

Dale Purinton

Dale Purinton is a well-known player, especially for New York Rangers fans. Over his 181-game career, Dale earned a reputation for his high level of physicality. As a result of this approach to the game, Dale had his fair share of career injuries and, at some points, needed a reliable treatment option. Throughout his career, Dale was also known for his progressive view of cannabidiol-derived products. 

In 2019, Dale partnered with AG Health—a company considered a leader in global endocannabinoid nutrition products. Dale would serve as an Athletic Liaison for the company’s endocannabinoid portfolio brand, VEDA to promote the products use in sport.  


Paul Bissonnette


Paul spent much of his career in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Phoenix Coyotes. Throughout his career, Paul was a known user of cannabidiol-derived products and was vocal enough to advocate for its express legalization in the NHL. Paul’s drive for CBD in the NHL was inspired by his personal experience with the therapeutic effects of this natural product. Paul currently partners with CaniBrands as a Sports Media Ambassador. 

Headquartered in Walnut Creek, California, CaniBrands is a CBD company producing many lines of innovative CBD-based products for professional athletes, children, celebrities, and the elderly. CaniBrands ambassadors, including Paul Bissonnette, are expected to use their personal experience with CBD in promoting these product brands. 


Riley Cote

Riley Cote is a Philadelphia Flyers star who made a name for himself as a formidable enforcer in the NHL. As a tough playing defender, he managed to pick up his fair share of career injuries, which would limit his playing time for the Flyers. Riley Cote is now described as a hemp activist by many mainstream media outfits. Riley Cote is the founder of the Hemp Heals Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization promoting hemp as a renewable resource. He is also a co-founder at Athletes for Care, a non-profit organization creating a support platform for retired players. In 2019, Cote launched Body Chek Wellness, a line of hemp-based personal products designed to optimize users’ performance and promote integrative healthcare methods.  


Other players in the NHL who are known for their supportive views on cannabidiol and cannabis-derived products include Mike Cannalleri and Ryan Vandenbussche. The NHL’s stance on cannabis-based products is progressive and compared to other leagues, does not seek to punish players, but rather monitor players who use cannabis-based products and offer help should the need arise. 



Anthony Tribunella

Having experienced the benefits of CBD first hand when it was starting to gain popularity, Anthony decided to spend his working life championing it to the public and his peers in the wider CBD community. As a CBD innovator himself, Anthony likes to remain at the leading edge of scientific and product development to ensure that the potential of CBD has every chance of being fully realized.

See all posts by Anthony Tribunella

Participate in CBD Research

CBD World News is part of an active community, working to enhance our understanding of the benefits of CBD. You can become an active part of that community too, by taking part in our collaborative research. We are interested in finding out who is using CBD, how it is used, and what it is used for?

Taking part in this research will help bring the good word of CBD to life and help people all over the world discover the benefits of cannabinoids.