NCAA Raises Cannabis Testing Threshold – What Does This Mean For International Sports?

track and field sports athlete exercise

The National Collegiate Athletic Association raises its testing thresholds – could this impact European sports organizations as well?

Following the announcement that the National Football Association (NFL) would be funding two medical studies on cannabis to the tune of $1 million earlier in the month, the NCAA has also put forward an announcement about its own change of policy on the cannabis front.

Last Friday, the NCAA raised its testing threshold for cannabis and recommended reduced penalties for student athletes who test positive for cannabis use. This is a significant change for the organisation.

The new guidelines are in line with THC guidelines established by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Further, the NCAA also recommended that its penalty structure is changed. Namely, after a first positive test, an athlete will not lose eligibility if the student’s school provides drug education for the student. This is also the case for the second positive test if the athlete’s school confirms that the student was compliant after the first incident. However, if the athlete was not compliant, they will be withheld from 25% of regular season play. After a third positive test, students will be withheld from 50% of regular season play if they have not been compliant in the school’s anti-drug education program.

Previously, athletes who tested positive for cannabis would be suspended for half a season and remain ineligible until the suspension period was completed and a subsequent negative test.

Where American Sports Go, So Will Global Ones

The move to accept cannabis use by athletes from prominent sports organizations – both professional and amateur, in the United States, is likely to push other global sports organizations to follow suit. This includes the Olympics, international tennis and of course soccer. Last year, Olympic favourite Sha’Carri Richardson was banned from competition after she tested positive for cannabis use.

Right now, cannabis sports meds are in a very early stage just about everywhere else. According to the German Journal of Sports Medicine, “Although the physical effects of cannabis are relatively minor, the increase in heart rate and blood pressure can cause problems. There are known cases in which cannabis has caused or promoted cardiac arrhythmias, heart attacks, and probably strokes.”

That said, give it time. The medical cannabis conversation continues to roll on, and where reform goes, sports organizations will follow.

Be sure to book your tickets to this years’ International Cannabis Business Conference events in Barcelona, Berlin, and Zurich.

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