Equestrian Federation reins in CBD use; Laura Bianchi and Adam Trenk, Rose Law Group partners, comment

US Equestrian

Tasked with protecting the welfare of equine athletes and ensuring the balance of competition, the US Equestrian Federation (USEF) Equine Drugs and Medications Program consistently monitors new products and product claims. From time to time, new products appear on the equine supplement market claiming to enhance a horse’s performance. Over the last several years, cannabinoids have gained increased attention and have become nearly mainstream.

In 2018 Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act, also known as the “Farm Bill”, which defines “hemp” asboththe plant Cannabis sativa L. and any derivatives of cannabis with less than 0.3% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). With the enactment of this bill, “hemp” is no longer considered a controlled substance under federal law, but THC remains a Schedule I drug with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The passage of the Farm Bill has created some potential confusion with respect to the use of these substances with competition horses.

USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Rules prohibit cannabidiols (CBD) and their metabolites. While hemp does not contain more than 0.3% THC, it does contain CBD. CBD, both natural and synthetic forms, are likely to effect the performance of a horse due to its reported anxiolytic effects. This substance is no different than legitimate therapeutics that effect mentation and behavior in horses. It is for these reasons that USEF prohibits CBD and all related cannabinoids. Horses competing under USEF rules who test positive for natural cannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids and other cannabimimetics will be considered in violation of GR4 beginning September 1, 2019.


“While the passage of the Farm Bill has been considered a positive for not only the hemp industry but the hemp-derived CBD industry, because the definition of hemp which allows for the presence of THC so long as it’s less than 0.3%, certainly creates the potential for confusion, as well as unintended violations of the rules of organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency and now USEF, which consider the presence of ANY amount of THC to be a violation. Unfortunately, its something that will be determined as these difficult situations arise over time.”

~Laura Bianchi

“The United States Equestrian Federation monitors the treatment of equine athletes, to ensure that competitors do not have an unfair advantage over one another through the use of certain controlled substances. The decision to test for Cannabinoids is not surprising, but the idea that the presence of such compounds will result in violations is disappointing. Cannabinoids are known to have a plethora of positive effects on a horse’s health, given their natural endocannabinoid system, without the negative side effects often caused by pharmaceuticals in pursuit of the same results.”

~Adam Trenk

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