Feb 25, 2022 - Sports

NCAA to relax marijuana policies

The NCAA logo at Division II Women's Golf Championship

Photo: Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The NCAA announced on Friday that it would be relaxing its marijuana policies —raising the THC threshold levels and recommending lighter punishments.

Driving the news: Under current NCAA policy, one failed marijuana test is a half-year suspension, The Athletic's Chris Vannini notes.

Details: The NCAA will be raising the threshold for THC from 35 to 150 nanograms per milliliter in line with the World Anti-Doping Agency standards.

  • There would be no punishment or loss of eligibility for the first positive test, as long as the school "provides a management plan and education" for the athlete about the drugs.
  • For the second positive test, there could still be no punishment if they are compliant with the management plan. If they are not, an athlete would miss 25% of their games.
  • For the third test, there could still be no punishment if the athlete still complies with a management plan. If not, they will be suspended from 50% of the games.

Of note: This rule will only apply to NCAA events, such as the men's basketball tournament. Regular season events are run by the schools, so they will have their own rules, per Vannini.

What they're saying: "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," Brian Hainline, the NCAA's chief medical officer, said in a release.

  • "The updated cannabis testing policies create a clear pathway for student-athletes to participate in education and management programs specific to their needs at the campus level," said Stephanie Chu, the chair of the Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports committee.

What's next: The recommendations now need to be separately adopted under legislation by each of the three divisions in college sports to officially become part of NCAA rules.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect the College Football Playoff is not an NCAA event.

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