Major League Baseball became the first major professional sports league to have a sponsorship agreement with a CBD company on Wednesday, announcing a partnership with Charlotte's Web.
Charlotte's Web is now the "Official CBD of Major League Baseball."
It's an exclusive multi-year partnership formed with the goal of increasing the visibility of CBD for baseball players and fans. Under the new partnership, the Colorado-based Charlotte's Web has launched a new CBD tincture, Charlotte's Web SPORT -- Daily Edge, featuring the MLB logo on the bottle.
"It's always great to be first, but it's more important to get it right," said MLB executive vice president of sponsorship sales Bill Morningstar. "That was really what drove this, is making sure that we did the education, and we understood exactly what the product stood for and what the company stands for. Being first is really a nice byproduct of it, but getting it right was critical, and we feel really confident that we took the steps, the time, to get everything in line."
Daily Edge is independently tested and certified by third-party organization NSF Certified for Sport to make sure it meets MLB's scientific benchmarks and no-banned substances policy. MLB opened up NSF-certified CBD sponsorships to the league and the 30 clubs this June, and Wednesday's sponsorship agreement makes MLB a strategic partner in the Charlotte's Web SPORT line.
"As a leader in the CBD category, with products that provide health and wellness benefits, Charlotte's Web is a welcome addition to the MLB family, representing a landmark partnership in baseball and sports," MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden said in a statement Wednesday. "Charlotte's Web products, which receive the NSF Certified for Sport designation, have met the highest safety standards and can be promoted across MLB events and media platforms. We are excited about the possibilities this partnership offers as CBD becomes a more widely adopted part of the health and wellness regimen of our players and fans."
The new Charlotte's Web and MLB co-branded CBD tincture, which will be available on Charlotte's Web's eCommerce platform for the 2022 MLB postseason before it debuts in retail sports and health and wellness channels in 2023, aims to benefit athletes' wellness in four areas: supporting recovery, helping sleep cycles, maintaining focus and helping them stay calm under pressure. Charlotte's Web Sport products will also later include CBD gummies, topicals and oral sprays.
NSF's principal technical manager John Travis joined Morningstar and Charlotte's Web co-founder Jared Stanley and CEO Jacques Tortoroli at MLB headquarters in New York to make Wednesday's announcement.
"This partnership is a natural evolution in the growth of the industry and our business, and in elevating the quality of life for MLB's players and 180 million-strong community," Tortoroli said. "Launching co-branded sports products will amplify each of our wellness missions. Most importantly, we'll collaborate on education for teams, for players, for fans, for the general public, about what CBD is, and what CBD is not. It's a unique, really only CBD choice of partner for Charlotte's Web."
Also attending was MLB's VP of drug, health and safety programs Jon Coyles, who spearheaded the league's effort to research CBD and establish ground rules for how it could be brought to baseball -- with input from all 30 Major League clubs -- as regulations changed to make CBD more accessible and the public's knowledge of CBD evolved.
"Jon Coyles really took the lead in setting up a process and guidelines so that we felt very comfortable taking the next step, which was pursuing a sponsorship partnership with a company like Charlotte's Web," Morningstar said.
"When we started our journey -- and this is going back years ago -- to see if CBD could play a role at MLB, we took a thoughtful, cautious, measured approach. The No. 1 consideration was it had to be safe for the players and for consumers."
Now that Charlotte's Web has partnered with MLB, expect to see the partnership promoted through all the league's marketing avenues -- digitally, on TV, in ballparks at games -- to create awareness and educate players and fans about Charlotte's Web and CBD. There will be Charlotte's Web branding at MLB Jewel Events like the postseason, World Series, All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.
Eventually, you might also see MLB players who use CBD promoting Charlotte's Web. U.S. women's soccer star Carli Lloyd has endorsed Charlotte's Web, and athletes like former NBA star Kevin Garnett have spoken about their use of CBD as players.
"If we get authenticity with a player who uses our product, that becomes the best endorsement that we can get,” said Stanley. “And yes, we are hoping to accomplish that and see that. But it'll take time to get the products into players' hands and create a true, authentic brand ambassador."
Stanley added that Charlotte's Web wants to take advantage of its partnership with MLB to find out what players need in a CBD product and use that to create new ones.
"Athletes aren't waiting, athletes want to access these products, which is why we commend MLB for recognizing that and trying to find a safe product that they can recommend," Stanley said. "For our product to go through NSF certification and to align with MLB so that we can get the right product -- if these players do want to try CBD, this is the right stuff."