New Marijuana Policies In Sports
Several major sports institutions are changing their marijuana policies to keep up with the de-stigmatization of marijuana across the country. Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and National Hockey League (NHL) have recently administered major changes in their marijuana policies.
On February 23rd, the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and the Medical Aspects of Sports increased the accepted amount of THC and recommended a revision to the penalties given to student-athletes who have failed drug tests. The threshold for acceptable cannabinoid levels changed from 30 to 150. Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer explains, “Reconsidering the NCAA approach to cannabis testing and management is consistent with feedback from membership on how to better support and educate student-athletes in a society with rapidly evolving public health and cultural views regarding cannabis use.”
The change in policy can be attributed to many university’s SAACs (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) reporting that many student-athletes were failing drug tests after inhaling marijuana smoke second hand. Therefore, the increase in threshold can be considered a win for student-athletes. Lastly, the proposed penalty structure for failed marijuana tests is significantly less severe than previous. In the past a failed drug test meant immediate loss of 1 year of eligibility; the proposed penalties do not call for a full year of eligibility loss even after three failed tests.
The MLB now allows all athletes to use cannabis during their “off hours”. But the organization does not allow any players to partner or do sponsorships with any marijuana businesses. The organization removed marijuana from its banned substance list and treats marijuana the same as alcohol. In a memo from the MLB to every team says, “Players and team personnel who “appear under the influence of marijuana or any other cannabinoid during any of the club’s games, practices, workouts, meetings or otherwise during the course and within the scope of their employment” will undergo a “mandatory evaluation” for a potential treatment program.”
The NHL still does routine tests for marijuana. But there is zero penalty for a positive test. Instead the positive test is then re-evaluated for “abnormally high” levels of THC. If the test does meet the criteria for “abnormally high” then the situation is treated as a private health matter. The same way alcohol is.
All of these major sports institutions are, in a sense, paving the way for renewed marijuana policies for all businesses. Many of these new policies are trickling down to the rest of the workforce.
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