At a time when sports drug testing policy is under close and national scrutiny, Nevada sports regulators voted on Wednesday to ensure that athletes are no longer penalized for testing positive marijuana.
The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) has unanimously agreed to adopt the policy change, which will change its anti-doping policy and remove the threat of suspension for the use or possession of cannabis for fighters. The move follows the controversial suspension of a star sprinter from her Olympic Games after testing positive for marijuana.
As Zachary Bright of the Nevada Independent reported, fighters still won’t be able to participate in events if they show up visibly intoxicated.
The motion is carried unanimously.
– Zach Bright (@zachbright_) July 7, 2021
“I think being the gold standard when it comes to combat sports, both [Mixed Martial Arts] and boxing – being a world class destination and the fact that our state is showing leadership and courage in light of some of the recent circumstances that we have all seen on TV, we should always be at the forefront of these questions ”, declared the President of the Commission. Stephen Cloobeck said at Wednesday’s meeting.
“I believe it is justified and deserved because it is legal in this state,” he said. “I think we have to move forward being the leader as we always have been.”
Marijuana testing will continue as part of commission policy for data collection purposes for six months – without fighters being punished for positive results – after which the NAC, which regulates boxing , mixed martial arts and other combat sports, will reconsider whether such continued screening is necessary.
The action comes after the NAC requested information from state officials about its power to remove marijuana from the list of banned substances. In a response last month, a representative from the state attorney general’s office said the commission could, in fact, make the change, and he listed Nevada’s marijuana legalization law as a factor that the commissioner could take into account to inform further reforms.
“Nevada voters and the Nevada legislature have approved the possession and medical and recreational use of cannabis,” the memo reads. “There is no longer a basis under Nevada criminal law to prohibit an unarmed fighter from using or possessing cannabis.”
US representative Dina Titus (D-NV) praised the committee’s action on Wednesday.
“Anti-marijuana laws are not only an unnecessary burden on the civil liberties of athletes, but they are also rooted in our country’s racist past,” she said. “I am happy to see the Nevada Athletic Commission eliminate outdated sanctions for fighters who test positive for the metabolites of marijuana.”
Anti-marijuana laws are not only an unnecessary burden on the civil liberties of athletes, but they are also rooted in our country’s racist past.
I am happy to see the Nevada Athletic Commission remove outdated penalties for fighters who test positive for the metabolites of marijuana.
– Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) July 7, 2021
The Florida State Boxing Commission decided in May to stop testing fighters for marijuana.
“Marijuana is considered a substance of abuse, not a performance enhancing drug,” said Bob Bennett, executive director of NAC. “I think our goal is to test performance enhancing drugs in order to ensure a level playing field. “
This is a much more lenient stance on how the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) approached the recent positive marijuana test for runner Sha’Carri Richardson. , who lost his chance to compete in the Olympics after consuming cannabis in a legal state.
In contrast, USADA and UFC announced in January that they would no longer punish fighters for positive marijuana tests, MMA Fighting reported. The main difference, of course, is that domestic fights in the UFC are not part of the International Olympics and therefore are not subject to more severe restrictions from WADA.
USA Track & Field (USATF), the country’s governing body for running, said in a statement Tuesday that it was currently unwilling to change its own house rules to make an exception in Richardson’s case ; However, he also said the international policy on cannabis-related punishments “should be reassessed”.
In a sense, the USATF reflects a position that President Joe Biden made on Saturday. He said that although “the rules are the rules”, he also suggested that there was an open question as to whether “they should remain the rules”. And that’s remarkable for a president who has maintained opposition to legalizing adult use.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki previously refused to condemn the Olympics officials’ sanction against Richardson when asked about the matter during a briefing with reporters.
Advocates have broadly embraced internal marijuana policy reforms in other major professional sports organizations, arguing they were long overdue, especially given the ever-expanding legalization movement.
The NFL’s drug testing policy changed demonstrably last year through a collective agreement, for example. Under this policy, NFL players will not be subject to suspension from games for testing positive for a drug, not just for marijuana.
In a similar vein, the MLB decided in 2019 to remove cannabis from the league’s list of banned substances. Baseball players can use marijuana without the risk of discipline, but officials clarified last year that they cannot work under the influence and cannot enter into sponsorship deals with cannabis companies, cannabis companies. less at the moment.
Meanwhile, a temporary NBA policy of not randomly testing drug players for marijuana amid the coronavirus pandemic may soon become permanent, the league’s top official said in December. Rather than impose general tests, Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would contact players who show signs of problematic addiction, and not those who “casually use marijuana.”
Read the Nevada Attorney General’s Office memo on the NAC’s Marijuana Testing Policy below:
NV Marijuana Test Memo by Marijuana Moment
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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.