The Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports under the NCAA recently announced new recommendations which stipulate that student athletes wouldn’t automatically lose their eligibility to play after testing positive for cannabis.
The committee increased the threshold for THC, which constituted a positive test to 150 nanograms (“ng”) per ml from 35 ng per ml. This increase aligns the NCAA’s policy with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s policy. Various discussions on the NCAA’s rules on marijuana have been held by members these past few months. This latest decision is consistent with moves made in different professional sports leagues as more states legalize the herb.
In a press release, the chief medical officer of the NCAA, Brian Hainline, stated that reconsidering the organization’s approach to marijuana testing and management was consistent with member feedback on how to better educate and support student-athletes in a society with evolving cultural and public health views on the use of marijuana. Hainline added that while cannabis wasn’t considered a performance-enhancing substance, it was important for member schools to offer support and management when appropriate and engage student-athletes on substance-use prevention.
The committee stated that there would be no loss of eligibility for first, second and third positive THC tests, as long as the school offered an education and management plan for the student-athlete. However, if the student-athlete did not comply with the management plan after a second violation, a 25% suspension from participation in regular season games was recommended. If the student-athlete suffered a third violation and still did not comply with past education and management plans, they would face a 50% suspension from regular season games but wouldn’t lose eligibility.
Currently, the bylaws for Division I-III student athletes state that a first positive cannabis test immediately makes a player ineligible for 50% of regular season games. A second positive test would result in the suspension of a student athlete for a whole season.
Stephanie Chu, chair of the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, stated that these changes to the organization’s drug testing program were approved after extensive discussion and careful consideration, noting that these adjusted marijuana testing policies created a clear pathway for student athletes to take part in management and education programs specific to their needs.
The three divisions under the NCAA are being urged to adopt these new eligibility recommendations into their bylaws. However, it should be noted that these recommendations aren’t binding.
As more and more sports bodies reform their cannabis laws, we are likely to see marijuana products manufactured by such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) become commonplace and gain wider acceptance in mainstream society, including among athletes who could benefit from the therapeutic potential of these substances.
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