The NCAA has changed its policy to provide for a relaxed approach to cannabis and the amount of THC an athlete can have to trigger a positive test. In an effort to align with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s levels, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports have agreed to allow for the threshold levels of THC, (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis), to increase from 35 nanograms per milliliter to 150 nanograms per milliliter.
“Reconsidering the NCAA approach to cannabis testing and management is consistent with feedback from membership on how to better support and educate student-athletes in a society with rapidly evolving public health and cultural views regarding cannabis use.”-NCAA Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brian Hainline, NCAA PR Release
In past years, one positive test for cannabis meant that the NCAA athlete in question would miss 50% of the regular season. A second positive test for cannabis would result in sitting out and, or missing an entire or equivalent to one seasons worth of games.
Under the New Proposal
- First Positive Test for Cannabis; “No loss of eligibility if the school provides a management plan and education for the student-athlete.”
- Second Positive Test for Cannabis; Same outcome as the first positive test with additional consequences that would result in missing 25% of regular-season games if the athlete does not follow the management plan
- Third Positive Test for Cannabis; Will result in the same outcome as the first two positive tests with additional consequences of missing 50% of regular-season games if the athlete does not follow the management plan
The NCAA has stated that the threshold-level change is effective immediately and is retroactive to drug tests taken since fall 2021.
With an opportunity to move the conversation forward we connected with former Villanova NCAA Champion, TedX Speaker and cannabis advocate Darryl Reynolds a.k.a. D-Rey to get his thoughts on what needs to happen next;
“They have to legalize it. Today, kids are growing up faster. There’s so many different things out there that they can get into. If an entity like the NCAA, that has so much control legalizes cannabis, it opens up the opportunity for parents to educate their children on it and that’s when the conversation with the plant changes entirely. Student athletes would be able to learn and get educated on CBD and THC products. Everybody grows up learning about Tylenol and Advil, why wouldn’t they come up knowing about the difference between THC, CBD, THCv, Delta 8, and everything that has to do with the whole cannabis plant.
Hopefully this is the entrance of cannabis into college athletics, and this could change everything. Now, these NIL deals take on a different light, now, these schools are having different conversations with sponsorships. What I’m interested to see is if this is just “a soft, yes” for colleges. How are they going to really approach it, are they just going to look the other way when it comes to cannabis and if this means that the cannabis business is going to make its way into college athletics?
Ultimately, I hope that the NCAA fully relaxes when it come to cannabis, because then that would make the culture of athletics, sports and parents of these students relax. Kids could start learning about it sooner, having conversations with their parents and doctors sooner, grow healthier relationships and have an opportunity to really break the stigma.“-Darryl Reynolds, 2016 Villanova NCAA Champion
Professional Leagues Adopting New Cannabis Policies
The NBA : The National Basketball Association made headlines around the world passing on cannabis testing for a second straight season. Due to the unusual circumstances surrounding last year’s season, the NBA suspended all random tests for cannabis and shifted focus to random testing for performance-enhancing products. Many athletes hoped this would lead to a permanent change and on Wednesday October 6th, 2021 progress was made;
“We have agreed with the NBPA to extend the suspension of random testing for marijuana for the 2021-22 season and focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse.”-NBA League Spokesman, Mike Bass
The NFL : Under the new guidelines players will not be tested for Delta 9 THC-carboxylic acid from April 20 to Aug 09. Reform to these policies was one of the biggest changes in the NFLPA and marked a historic moment for Retired and Current NFL players pushing for an even playing field.