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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With public support for marijuana legalization nearing unanimity, and more athletes using cannabis to treat pain, the four major U.S. sports leagues continue to reduce restrictions and punishments.

Driving the news: NBA players won't be subject to random marijuana testing this season, an extension of an agreement between the league and its players' union that began ahead of the 2020 Orlando restart.

League policies:

  • NBA: Marijuana remains prohibited, but the relaxed testing protocol brings the league more in line with its Big Four counterparts.
  • NHL: While the NHL tests for cannabis, there's no punishment for positives. If a player has "abnormally high levels" of THC, it's treated as a health matter (like alcoholism would be).
  • MLB: In 2019, MLB removed marijuana from its list of banned substances and now treats it the same as alcohol. Players do, however, remain subject to discipline for using or possessing the drug.
  • NFL: The new CBA reduced the testing window from four months to just two weeks of training camp, so players could use marijuana in the offseason without fear of punishment. The threshold for a positive test was also raised, and suspensions were replaced by fines.

By the numbers: Recreational marijuana is legal in Canada and 18 states, plus D.C., while medical marijuana is legal in 38 states. That means just 22 of 124 Big Four teams (18%) are based in states where neither use is permitted:

  • Texas: Astros, Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers, Rockets, Stars, Spurs, Texans
  • North Carolina: Hornets, Hurricanes, Panthers
  • Tennessee: Grizzlies, Predators, Titans
  • Georgia: Braves, Falcons, Hawks
  • Wisconsin: Brewers, Bucks, Packers
  • Indiana: Colts, Pacers

Go deeper

Updated Dec 2, 2021 - Sports

MLB enters first work stoppage since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (left) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59pm ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is in a management lockout — the first work stoppage since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Dec 2, 2021 - Sports

NFL suspends Antonio Brown, 2 others for misrepresenting COVID vaccination status

Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The National Football League (NFL) on Thursday suspended three players —Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Mike Edwards as well as former wide receiver John Franklin III — for violating COVID-related protocols.

Why it matters: The suspensions come after the NFL reviewed allegations that the players "misrepresented their vaccination status," and ultimately concluded that all three violated league protocols.

Dec 2, 2021 - Sports

What to know about the MLB lockout

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.