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Volume 23 No. 28
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NASCAR not ready for CBD

Sanctioning body still won’t allow sponsorships in the category, which continues to gain footholds in sports.

NASCAR is taking a pass on CBD products.

 

The sanctioning body has decided against allowing sponsorships to be sold to CBD companies, according to sources, stopping brands in the emerging category from advertising in the sport.

Numerous sports have started selling ad inventory for the CBD category amid the rise of hemp-derived cannabidiol in the U.S. as an anti-inflammation or pain-soothing consumer product. UFC has a deal with Aurora Cannabis related to CBD, while cbdMD has deals with Bellator, the Big3 basketball league, golfer Bubba Watson and Monster Energy Supercross.

Sources said NASCAR’s decision is at least in part due to restrictions in place among the sport’s media rights partners, Fox Sports and NBC Sports. NASCAR declined to comment about the policy, while Fox and NBC did not comment by press time.

Because the CBD category is still emerging, teams have not pushed back against the prohibition so far, sources say. However, in a sport where teams rely on sponsorship for around 75% of their annual revenue, teams could eventually lobby NASCAR to change its stance.

NASCAR is following the CBD topic and its evolution as an accepted product in America. Some industry executives believe that further legal or cultural changes could lead NASCAR to change its rules as well.

Some teams and tracks in NASCAR told Sports Business Journal that they wouldn’t sell the category anyway due to preferences of their ownership.

While spending in the CBD category may not be reaching the heights seen when categories like daily fantasy first got into sports, CBD has started to emerge as one of the new sponsorship prospects that industry executives are watching closely.

Current and retired athletes including Terrell Davis, Rob Gronkowski and Megan Rapinoe have gotten involved with CBD companies. USA Triathlon recently signed a deal with CBD company Pure Spectrum, a company that has also reportedly had talks with the PGA Tour and the National Basketball Retired Players Association.

Another emerging category, e-cigarettes, is allowed in series like NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One with varying caveats. NASCAR began allowing such deals a couple of years ago and only approves them if the product complies with government regulations and contains no ingredients or substances banned under the NASCAR drug policy.