Major League Baseball removes cannabis from its list of banned substances, turning its attention to opioids and inspiring other leagues to follow suit…
The normalization of cannabis is gaining traction in the United States and around the world. Now, in a major victory for cannabis reform advocates, Major League Baseball (MLB) and its union have agreed to officially remove cannabis from its list of banned substances.
Previously, the league did not test major leaguers for cannabis unless it had evidence someone was using it, but it did randomly test minor leaguers. As recently as 2015, a promising minor leaguer received a 50-game suspension for a positive test result for THC.
Under the new policy, the league simply won’t test for cannabis.
Instead, the league will add opioids to its list of drugs to test for. As was the case with cannabis, the league will only test for opioids in major leaguers when it has some evidence that the drugs are being misused.
The changes come after the tragic death of Tyler Skaggs, a promising player with the Los Angeles Angels who died of an opioid overdose in July.
But the MLB is taking a much smarter approach with opioids than it did with cannabis. Specifically, the league is putting much more emphasis on education and treatment rather than punishment.
And now, other professional sports leagues may be looking to follow suit.
The National Football League (NFL) could be the next sports organization to recognize that cannabis is neither a performance-enhancing drug nor is it dangerous to users of moderate quantities.
The football league reduced its penalties for cannabis use way back in 2014, but now some influential people in the league are saying that it could do much more than that.
In a recent interview on the subject of the MLB decision, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that “the times are changing and progress is good.” He also expressed hope that there was increasing research on the benefits of cannabis.
Brady is an incredibly influential player in the league, but he does not get a vote on whether to change the policy – which is why it’s so interesting that Jerry Jones expressed similar sentiments.
Jones owns the Dallas Cowboys and, unlike Brady, he does get a vote. He said that we can expect an adjustment in the NFL’s policy and that he was excited to be “in-step with the social and legal scene.”
The MLB, and eventually the NFL, are doing more than being in-step. Their changes presage even larger-scale changes to the law in the future.
The more these big institutions recognize that cannabis is not something that should be banned, the more pressure there is on federal and state lawmakers to legalize cannabis.
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White House Endorses the Change
Major League Baseball’s rule change even drew approving remarks from the White House. Kellyanne Conway, one of President Trump‘s closest advisors, focused on the opioids issue and said that “we appreciate the example that a trusted and beloved American institution is setting for others.”
There’s still much work to do in the sports world – college athletes are afraid to use full-spectrum CBD products for fear of failing a drug test they should never have to take, for example. And NASCAR has prohibited CBD companies from sponsorships.
But Major League Baseball took an important leadership position which will save the lives of players, inspire other organizations to change their policies, and ultimately move the cannabis industry forward.
To learn more about the athletes and organizations at the forefront of the cannabis normalization movement, check out our cannabis & sports archive.
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors
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December 17 2019