NCAA Committee Proposes Excluding Cannabis From Banned Drugs

The NCAA is considering dropping cannabis from its banned drug list and testing protocols, the association announced Friday.

The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, which recently met in Indianapolis, signaled support for removing cannabis from the NCAA’s banned drug list.

The support stems from the NCAA’s December 2022 Summit on Cannabinoids in College Athletics, which concludes by consensus that cannabis is not a performance-enhancing drug. Instead, the NCAA said it prefers to take a harm reduction approach to cannabis while focusing on testing for substances that provide performance-enhancing athletic advantages, the organization said in a news release.

The committee will gather additional input from NCAA membership this summer and expects to make a final decision this fall, according to the release. In addition to NCAA membership, the committee will seek support from the NCAA Board of Governors to end cannabis testing at NCAA championship events while the legislation is considered.

In order for cannabis to be removed from the NCAA’s list of banned drugs, all three NCAA divisional governance bodies – Division I, Division II, and Division III –  must introduce and adopt legislation outlining those changes.

The committee also signaled its support for developing a communication and education campaign to provide guidance to NCAA membership about cannabis, including educating student-athletes on cannabis, its potential health risks, and different methods of consumption.

The recommendation to remove cannabis from the NCAA’s banned drug list follows more states legalizing both adult-use and medical cannabis. Twenty-three states currently have legalized adult-use cannabis programs.

Relatedly, the NBA announced in April it will no longer drug test players for cannabis as part of the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement. In addition, the NFL announced in April 2021 it would not test players for cannabis during the league’s offseason, spanning from April 20 – popularly known as the 4/20 cannabis holiday – and August 9, when team training camps begin.

MLB, meanwhile, announced in December 2019 it would remove cannabis from its list of banned substances.

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Zach Mentz

Zach Mentz is an editor at Flavor Fix, covering cannabis, CBD and alcohol news and featured stories. Previously, he worked as senior editor of Cannabis Business Times (CBT). Mentz is a graduate of the Tim Russert Department of Communication at John Carroll University.

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