Should THC Be Banned in Professional Sports?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), classifies marijuana and other cannabinoids, including synthetic versions of these compounds, as banned substances in competition. The contradiction can appear to come in the criteria. WADA prohibits substances that meet two of three criteria: posing a health risk to athletes, potentially enhancing performance or violating “the spirit of sport.” Most health experts agree that there is not enough evidence to support the notion that THC enhances sports performance more evidence supports that THC may negatively enhance performance. Some health experts believe THC can pose a health risk, but no more of a health risk than alcohol or many other accepted medication.

In 2020 one of the biggest NFL overhauls was a change the league had long resisted. The NFL loosened the rules governing players’ use of marijuana. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, players who test positive for marijuana will no longer be suspended. Instead of from April to August testing will be limited to the first two weeks of training camp. In a huge change the threshold for the amount of 9-delta tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), will now need tobe four times the previous requirement to trigger a positive result. This is not exactly a free for all, while players will not be suspended for positive tests, they can be fined several weeks’ salary, depending on the number of positive tests.

The significance of the NFL, who has historically had a strong stance against marijuana use, loosing it’s restrictions has already had a domino effect on other sports. In just a couple of years as sports organizations have reexamined it’s viewpoint on the subject. Even the NCAA has eased some rules. Marijuana is the most widely used recreational drug in the United States with 48.2 million people reporting to be users. That is a huge chunk of the population! Furthermore, everyday more and more people are discovering other ways to enjoy the benefits of THC such as Delta-8 and Delta-9 gummies. Paul Haagen, co-director of the Center for Sports Law and Policy at Duke University states in regards to marijuana use “ “There is a generalized sense that the fans don’t care about the issue”. As marijuana and THC use becomes less taboo we may see a day when athletes are no longer tested for this mainstream substance.

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