MLB allows teams to sell CBD sponsorships

  • The CBD market is currently worth up to US$4.9 billion and could reach US$47 billion in 2028, according to SBJ
  • Jersey patches and TV commercials potential sponsorship options

Major League Baseball (MLB) has allowed teams to sign sponsorship deals with cannabidiol (CBD) brands.

The league said partnerships will be approved as long as they are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) testing organization to have no psychoactive levels of THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.

CBD is a chemical compound found naturally in cannabis plants. Athletes with CBD sponsorship deals include golfer Bubba Watson, American football ace Megan Rapinoe and former National Football League (NFL) star Rob Gronkowski.

In terms of sports leagues and competitions in the United States, only the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has entered the CBD sponsorship space. The mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion signed a five-year, multi-million dollar global partnership with Love Hemp in March 2021.

The Sport Business Journal previously reported in June 2020 that Major League Soccer (MLS) was set to introduce CBD as an approved sponsorship category.

It’s unclear at this point how much MLB teams could recoup for CBD partnerships. According to SBJ, the CBD market is worth up to US$4.9 billion worldwide this year, and could reach US$47 billion in 2028.

MLB opened up additional inventory when it gave the go-ahead for teams to sell jersey crest sponsorships starting in the 2023 season. The San Diego Padres were the first out in April, announcing a tie-up with telecommunications company Motorola in a deal, according to SportBusiness, worth $10 million a year.

The Jersey patch brand could be a viable option for CBD brands, according to MLB Chief Revenue Officer Noah Garden.

“We’re open to doing a patch deal here, depending on the brand and what that brand stands for,” Garden told SBJ. “He must have a brand that represents the sport.”

CBD companies that sign deals with teams or the league will also be allowed to run TV ads during game telecasts, under a similar set of rules that MLB has that govern sports betting ads.

Neal T. Doss