Tom Parsons still isn’t sure how he did it. It was a practice jump. A weird injury. A moment that could have ended his career.
In summer 2017, the Florida motocross rider was doing a trick for the cameras that ended in a tumble. Milliseconds before landing, Parsons jumped off his bike and as he hit the dirt, dislocated, then broke the radius and scaphoid bones in his right wrist. He would spend the next 11 months waiting, hoping, to get back on his motorcycle.
“I tucked and rolled,” Parsons said. “I landed on my left, but it was my right that got hurt.”
The scaphoid, a small bone at the base of the hand and thumb, and the radius, the bigger of the two bones in the forearm, meet at the wrist. The injury also left Parsons with pinched nerves and unable to firmly grip and torque the throttle of his bike. He was recovering, but not as well as he would have liked.
“I was taking prescription medication and it was causing me too many problems,” Parsons said. “A buddy sent me some CBD gummies. It worked great and I never went back.”
The Weedmaps Sports rider had joined others on his team in using cannabinoids for relief of inflammation and pain.
Despite his passion for it, Parsons describes motocross as “constant punishment” on his body, including two previous elbow injuries. He claims the mixture of CBD tinctures and topical creams shortened his recovery time and managed pain effectively without the side effects of drugs such as Percocet, an opioid often prescribed to riders.
“I definitely worried [what people thought]in the beginning,” he said. “But I’ve had friends who got addicted to pills. The more I researched, the more I realized this is a better alternative.”
His appearance at the Supercross event in Las Vegas on Oct. 13, 2018, was his long-awaited return to competition and a warm-up for X Games Sydney set for Oct. 19-21, 2018, when Parsons is expected to add to his gold and silver medals.
In fact, the entire Weedmaps Sports team is expected to medal across the field in skateboarding, BMX, and motocross, even though the Australians hold 138 medals over the 20-year history of the winter and summer X Games, including 45 gold medals.
Medicinal marijuana is legal in Australia, but rules are different in each state. In New South Wales, where Sydney is located, medical use is by prescription only, and reserved for terminally ill patients.
Current applications of the law are unlikely to cause many problems for visiting athletes at a three-day sporting event, and with opioid addiction rates far lower in Australia than in the U.S., the legislative drive to legalize medical marijuana is different. However, accidental drug overdoses now exceed highway fatalities in Australia, according to public health organization the Penington Institute, and since 2006, opioid-related deaths have been steadily on the rise. Australian politicians and health-care officials seem eager to avoid the crisis the U.S. is facing. How that will affect medical marijuana laws, and in particular CBD-based sports medicine, remains to be seen.
Even a high-profile, TV-ready international sporting event such as the X Games is unlikely to provide incentive for new medical cannabis laws in sport-loving Australia, though the games consistently draw more than 100,000 people and a solid TV audience.
But for Parsons, he simply found a safer and better way to get back riding — and flying through the air. Ask and he’ll give you his honest opinion about his journey back. His view is clear.
“In a sport with a lot of injuries, people need help with recovery and pain management,” he said. “People are seeing the bad effects of Percocet and other drugs, and I think you’ll see a huge change over the next few years. I think it will benefit the sport overall. People just are in the dark and it’s a matter of getting educated.”