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Over the past decade, medical and recreational marijuana have become more widely accepted, both culturally and legally. But in sports, pot can always get a bad rap.
Recreational weed has been a source of disappointment and disqualification for athletes – like Sha’Carri Richardson, an American sprinter on the verge of becoming ineligible to compete in the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for marijuana.
But that may soon change for college athletes.
An NCAA panel is asking the association to remove cannabis from its banned drug list and testing protocols. The group, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, said testing should be limited to performance-enhancing drugs and found that cannabis does not enhance performance.
Each of the NCAA’s three divisional governing bodies are yet to introduce and adopt the rule change to remove cannabis from the association’s prohibited drug list, the NCAA said in a statement released Friday. The committee has asked the NCAA to halt cannabis testing at championships while changes are considered.
The NCAA is expected to make a final decision on this in the fall.
The panel argued that the association should approach cannabis in the same way as alcohol, move away from punitive measures and focus on educating student-athletes about the health risks of marijuana use. .
The NCAA has slowly reconsidered its approach to cannabis testing. Last year, the association raised the threshold of THC, the intoxicant in cannabis, needed to trigger a positive drug test.
It’s not just the NCAA that has changed its stance on marijuana. MLB announced it was removing marijuana from its “drugs of abuse” list in 2019. Meanwhile, in 2021, the NFL halted THC testing for players during the offseason.
The NCAA oversees varsity sports at approximately 1,100 schools in the United States and Canada. More than 500,000 student-athletes compete in all three divisions of the NCAA. The association started its drug testing program in 1986 to ensure competitions are fair and equitable.