UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cannabis use in high performance sport : an exploration Kanerva, Andrew


Cannabis use is undergoing a process of normalization, which is allowing for cannabis use to transition from a once deviant social behaviour to remerge as a common lifestyle choice (Duff et al., 2012). On October 17th, 2018, recreational use of cannabis was legalized in Canada. Since then, cannabis use has increased nationally (Statistics Canada, 2019); this is due to the measurable changes in the ways Canadians perceive and understand the risks associated with cannabis use. However, cannabis remains prohibited for varsity student-athletes in Canada. Consequently, varsity student-athletes who use cannabis maintain separate and competing identities as athletes and as cannabis users. Noting both the proliferation of cannabis use culture in Canada and the prohibition of cannabis use for varsity student-athletes, this study employed a qualitative, phenomenological approach to situate cannabis use within a sociocultural context and to explore cannabis use amongst men and women varsity student-athletes from the University of British Columbia. The purposes of this study were twofold. First, I wanted to challenge existing assumptions by uncovering the reasons why athletes use cannabis and how they use it. Second, I wanted to understand the role that cannabis has in shaping athletes’ identities by exploring the experiences they have when they use cannabis. The findings revealed that cannabis use amongst varsity student-athletes is prevalent despite the current restrictions and that the participants motives and cannabis use behaviours for using cannabis were purposeful. This study also explored student-athletes lived experiences of using cannabis. The findings revealed that the participants used cannabis in ways, at times, and in contexts that allowed them to maintain their dual, competing identities. The findings also highlighted that cannabis use represented a discreditable behaviour, which resulted in feelings of shame, guilt, and regret.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International