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Less than 20 years ago, smoking weed could cost a professional athlete his or her job. Today, cannabis may keep some athletes in a job. The growing cannabis industry is now sponsoring professional athletes and teams in various sporting disciplines.

420 Racing is a South African canna-friendly hard enduro race team that launched earlier this year. The riders are professional athletes and top 5 finishers in their respective classes. They race at major, sanctioned racing events including Lowveld Enduro Series, Michelin EWXC Series, Enduro SA Nationals Championship, Impi Hard Enduro and Roof of Africa. These race franchises get local TV coverage on Supersport and Ignition. Roof of Africa also gets global sports TV coverage.

Current cannabis industry sponsors of 420 Racing include: Biltong & BudzNature’s Farmacy, ONE culture, Mary Java CannAgency™, GonGrow and Seed Inc Online. The team is also supported by moto accessories brand, Bike Kings and digital agency, 4SHAW.

420 Racing is actively seeking a lead brand sponsor for the 2022 Race Season. This will ideally be a CBD brand. One of CBD’s primary medicinal benefits is relief from pain and inflammation, which is pretty much a constant for hard enduro riders. This makes them a focussed target group and relevant marketing investment for CBD pain relief products and CBD infused beverages.

It’s an opportunity for a CBD/Cannabis brand to effectively own primary share of voice in South African hard enduro. Being represented in an active, healthy-lifestyle adrenalin sport is good positioning. Not only does it help to destigmatize the category but presents a legitimate canvas for cannabis brands looking to create awareness and build equity.

“It’s great original content that can increase your reach, augment your social media and add personality to your brand.” explains Kevin Bird, Director at Mary Java and co-founder of 420 Racing, “Cannabis brands are already sponsoring Motocross in the US and South Africa is following suit, with brands like Cannabis Energy Drink, who have invested heavily in the Motocross Nationals Championship.

Just as some can make the argument that cannabis has no place in motorsports, many others feel CBD certainly does have a place, especially considering riders’ propensity for injury and the drawbacks (and wildly addictive nature) of some of the other pain-relief options available.

Despite the times changing and the acceptance of cannabis globally, cannabis is not the first sponsor that some would argue didn’t seem to fit with racing. However, before the current energy drink era, tobacco and alcohol companies were the primary sponsors in many forms of racing. Racing ran on tobacco money as much as it ran on gasoline until restrictions on advertising eventually eliminated it and the sport grew richer and more professional because of tobacco money. Today, racing could be seriously up-ended if the Monsters and Red Bulls pulled their support, and there are some entities, like the American Medical Association that would like to see restrictions on marketing of energy drinks.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD (but not other cannabinoids) from its list of prohibited substances in September 2017. But the change was not effective until January 1, 2018, giving Olympic athletes little time to incorporate CBD into their training programs.

According To Forbes magazine in the USA recently –  For the first time in the Olympics 125-year modern history, elite athletes are being open about their use of cannabis products to prepare them for the world’s biggest stage in sports. Leading the charge is Olympic gold medalist and U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe, who incorporates CBD into her training routine using products from Mendi, a company founded by her sister Rachael Rapinoe and Brett Schwager. Mendi’s founders started the company to create a brand of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products that provide athletes with natural wellness solutions to help them recover better and perform at their best.

Rolling Stone magazine writer, Harrison Rise also recently published a piece saying “One thing is clear: The cultural tide is shifting toward the acceptance of cannabis brands and products in the sports industry. With high-profile athletes like Rob Gronkowski, Mike Tyson, Al Harrington and Joe Montana attaching their names to cannabis and CBD brands, the writing is on the wall.

Even the notoriously strict NFL is beginning to see the light. In 2019, the league and the players’ association agreed to jointly study cannabis as a pain management tool. The NHL Alumni Association has teamed up with Canopy Growth to research and study 100 retired players to assess the efficacy of CBD products in treating post-concussion neurological disorders.”

Before committing your 2022 marketing spend into the usual channels, why not consider 420 racing as an option to get more reach, frequency and duration for your buck. Not to mention the additional benefits of equity and affinity that can be achieved by aligning with this exciting and popular sport.

To find out more information about 420 Racing and sponsorship packages available, please visit: www.420racing.co.za