Avery Collins, award-winning ultrarunner, placing 15th in the UTMB CCC.

Avery Collins: Pro Ultrarunner and Cannabis Advocate

Elite ultrarunner Avery Collins is one of the fastest in his sport, and guess what?  He was the first professional runner to be sponsored by a cannabis brand.  He utilizes cannabis during his training blocks and after his races to optimize recovery. He is not afraid to let the world know, too! He’s done some of the most challenging races on the planet including his most recent 100K in France.  We spoke with Avery once he returned to Colorado and got to hear all about it and more.  Here’s what he shared with us.

Ultrarunner Avery Collins zipping up a Quiq cannabis-branded coat.

Q&A with Avery Collins, award-winning ultrarunner

Avery, we’d love to hear about the race in France you just finished.  How’d it go?

Well, it was the most competitive race by far.  It’s a 101km race called the UTMB CCC (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc through Courmayeur, Champex and Chamonix) in France.  I came in 15th out of 2500 runners which is actually the furthest back I've ever finished in any field.  That definitely says something about the competition because, at the same time, I can say it was undoubtedly one of the top three to five performances of my life.  Traditionally speaking, my time would have put me between fifth and eighth in previous years, and as soon as last year I would have finished six or seventh with my time, so the sport is clearly growing really fast.

My goal was to run it in 11 hours and I came a little short of that with 11hrs and 47 minutes.  I'm not displeased with that by any means.  I ran the hardest race I could in terms of pushing myself.  In terms of training, had my season gone a little bit differently, perhaps I would’ve been closer to that goal, but I believe that was the best potential outcome on that day and I am excited for that.

Avery Collins, award-winning ultrarunner, placing 15th in the UTMB CCC.

Credit: Colin Schultz

Is there any footage from this race we could watch?

I would highly encourage you to go onto YouTube and just type in UTMB CCC.  (click here for video).  It's worth watching just to get an idea of the magnitude of the race.  In the US, when you do an ultra, it’s very quiet and there are not very many people in the field size.  If you are lucky, there are a few hundred people.  Whereas in CCC, there were tens of thousands of fans; helicopters flying over filming you live, and it's being broadcast on television.  It’s a totally different world there and the sport is legitimate, whereas here, there are a dozen sports you have to get through before ultrarunning is even relevant.

We’d love to hear about some of your past achievements.  What are Avery Collins' favorite races? 

There've been plenty of race wins I've had that were incredible, but at the end of the day, I don't think it's really the wins that are most notable or that stand out in my mind.  It's more specifically the races that have been the most difficult, maybe perhaps even more mentally than physically, that I pushed through and finished despite whatever underlying issues I was having.

The one that stands out the most is a race called Tor des Geants (Tour of the Giants) in a valley in Italy.  It’s a 210-mile race that circumnavigates the Italian Alps.  I would definitely say it's one of the hardest races in the world and my expectations were pretty high.  The race did not go the way I assumed it would go.  I was dealing with some really difficult injuries, so persevering through them and finishing was one of the harder things I've ever done.  For context, I was in a very serious car accident two weeks before the race and it shifted a lot of things in my body from my rib cage to my pelvis, and then running 210 miles over 32 mountains took a big toll on my body.  The six months after were a pretty tough time, very depressing and I had extreme back pain.  I don't deal with daily pains like that anymore but with that being said, I also spend an hour and a half to two hours a day doing yoga and functional strength training.

A group of three athletes running in Courmayer, Italian Alps.

What are some of your favorite cannabis products you work with for training and racing, and how do you incorporate them?

For training and racing, I use Quiq.  I love how quickly I start feeling it.  I take one 10 milligram piece of chocolate every two to three hours, and if I'm going out for an 8-hour run, two to three pieces are plenty.  When I get home, I’ll take Quiq's indica chocolates to wind down post-run and before bed.

The other product I use regularly is trupura CBD.   I use it in smaller amounts, like 50 milligrams of CBD oil each day, and with longer efforts, I'll take anywhere from 500 to 1000 milligrams when I get back.   I find that it helps reduce inflammation quicker than normal and expedite the recovery process.  I'll also take 50 milligrams of trupura CBD alongside my multivitamin every morning to help my body absorb more of the nutrients I’m giving it.

Ultrarunner athlete Avery Collins picking up a piece of Quiq cannabis chocolates.

Can you share a bit more about your recovery protocol?

A lot of people really like to preach about how great CBD is, but honestly I think THC is vital and great for recovery.   There's nothing I've ever found that can relax me more than THC after a giant effort such as a 100 mile race.  People assume that you can just sleep after a run like that because you're incredibly tired, but the thing is your legs are really throbbing, you can feel your blood pumping through them and through your veins.  I’ve found that for me, the only way to really calm that down is with THC.  My experience is that it’s the true component of recovery.  So, I combine that with a high dose of CBD and find my recovery time to be greatly reduced.

I’d love to add something that I think is really important and not promoted enough, which is taking breaks from consuming cannabis. Three to four times a year I don't use cannabis for four to eight weeks at a time and I’ve found it helps me keep a healthy relationship with cannabis.  I have no dependency upon needing it for a run.

An athlete holding a bottle of trupura CBD tincture on a Colorado mountaintop.

Hear more from Avery Collins and his experience runnin' high

Avery is based in Silverton, Colorado, and is happily engaged to pro ultrarunner, Sabrina Stanley.  He attributes his love for running long distances to cannabis, as it helps bring his awareness fully into the present moment, to both enjoy every moment of the run and be attentive to all the subtle messages his body is communicating to him.  He is truly one of a kind and we love him!  Follow Avery’s journey on IG at @runninhigh

And experience for yourself how incorporating Quiq and trupura CBD products into your fitness regime can benefit your mind and body. 

Bush Flowering herb hemp with seeds and flowers. Concept breeding of marijuana, cannabis, legalization.

Federal Cannabis Legalization in 2021

Most people who have been involved in shaping our nation’s legal cannabis industry would agree it has been far from smooth sailing. State by state legalization, for all its triumphs, has had plenty of shortcomings and tends to cause a lot of confusion. The constant back and forth conversations about federal cannabis legalization in 2021 leave much to the imagination. Is it going to happen? What will it mean for states who already have legalization? How will it change the manufacturing and sales processes for established cannabis companies?

One thing’s for certain: the federally legal status of cannabis in 2021, and going into 2022, is anyone’s guess.

A marijuana flag waving outside of the white house, advocating for federal cannabis legalization.

How many states in the U.S. have a legal cannabis industry?

As of now, Nebraska and Idaho are the only states with no form of cannabis legalization whatsoever, but 12 states only allow low-THC, CBD oil. Another 18 states, including D.C., are fully recreational for people over 21. Overall, 37 states have a medical marijuana program, and it seems like new regulations are being added or changed every day. 

This hodgepodge of individually legalized states has amassed plenty of uncertainty around the right way to move the cannabis industry forward. However, a new cannabis legislation plan being proposed by Senate Democrats may offer the answer most people can agree on.

Senate leaders move to end the federal prohibition of marijuana

On July 14th, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), alongside Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), unveiled the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. The main point in the draft legislation calls for U.S. Attorney General, Merrick Garland, to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. This would allow any state to establish its own cannabis regulations without federal interference. 

Some of the other mandates outlined in the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act include:

  • Expungement of non-violent federal marijuana convictions within one year of passing the legislation
  • Imposing a 10% tax on all cannabis products
  • Preventing federal officials from taking discriminatory actions against legal cannabis users
  • The creation of an Opportunity Trust Fund from new cannabis tax revenue that would be invested into programs aimed at repairing communities most affected by the failed War on Drugs
  • Allowing physicians with the US Department of Veteran Affairs to recommend medicinal cannabis as a form of treatment 
  • Transferring power over cannabis regulation from the US Drug Enforcement Administration to the FDA and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

For NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal, passing the legislation means real freedom for responsible cannabis consumers. “With one in eight Americans choosing to consume on a semi-regular basis, including nearly one in four veterans, we must end the practice of arresting over 500,000 Americans every year and denying countless others employment, housing, and other civic rights if we are truly to be the ‘Land of the Free’,” stated Strekal.

Police arrest drug trafficker with handcuffs.close up of addict narcotics dose marijuana

How could the cannabis industry and society benefit from federal cannabis legalization in 2021?

Legalizing cannabis is beneficial both from an industry and social standpoint. The impact on state revenue only shows the potential a decriminalized cannabis market could have on the economy, and that’s just the beginning. Here are some other reasons why descheduling cannabis is essential for us as a nation.

More banking options

A major problem for most cannabis companies is having access to banking. Since cannabis is still a federally illegal substance, banks are extremely hesitant to work with or lend money to any type of cannabis business, regardless of a state’s legal status. 

The financial investment for acquiring the necessary cannabis licensing is a hefty expense, which leaves most smaller businesses in the cold. Many dispensaries and retail stores have also been robbed because they are unable to accept credit or debit cards. However, a bill known as the Safe Banking Act has been passed to the Senate after overwhelming support from the U.S House of Representatives.

Increase in state revenue

States with a legalized cannabis industry have seen millions in return from the taxes and fees imposed on medical and recreational businesses. By 2026, the legal recreational market is expected to bring in nearly $42 billion.

Allows for interstate commerce

Forcing cannabis companies to be responsible for every aspect of their production, manufacturing, distribution, and sales is an unsustainable business model. Interstate commerce has caused supply and demand issues, which in turn hinders the growth of the market and the ability to meet patient/consumer demand. It also makes the pricing model for cannabis products incredibly varied. Concentrating cannabis entrepreneurs to a single state for their revenue puts them in a risky position when prices begin to fluctuate. 

An end to needless arrests and criminal penalties 

An FBI report in 2019 found police had arrested more people for cannabis offenses than violent crimes in that same year. Other studies also prove there are significant racial disparities in the number of possession arrests in communities of color compared to white communities. Some of these sentences have been as long as 10 years. 

Full access to cannabis medicine

Many have gone to great lengths to experience the kind of relief cannabis has been shown to provide, even for neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia. People have spoken highly about the benefits of cannabis for years, and it’s time for modern medicine to catch up. The more opportunities we have to study different cannabinoids and how they interact with the human body, the sooner we can create products unique to specific medical conditions.

A person in an Army uniform wearing a cannabis leaf patch. Veteran medical care is a large reason to advocate for federal cannabis legalization.

Tell the Senate you support federal cannabis legalization in 2021

Want to make sure your voice gets added to the discussion on cannabis legalization? The Senate is accepting public comments about the draft legislation now. Send your feedback to [email protected] and help them understand why 60% of Americans are for medical and recreational cannabis.