The American University Athletic Association (NCAA) recommends removing cannabis from the list of banned substances

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Last week, the committee of National Collegiate Athletic AssociationNCAA) on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CMAS) recommended removing cannabis from its list of prohibited substances, instead calling for a “robust educational strategy.”

The sports association, which organizes the sports programs of many major schools and universities in the United States. first announced in June that it was considering these reforms. Some American sports federations such as the NBA, MMA or MLB no longer screen for cannabis.

The committee concluded that removing cannabis from its testing protocols:

  • recognizes the ineffectiveness of the existing policy, which includes banning, testing and penalizing
  • affirms role of NCAA drug testing program to address only performance-enhancing substances
  • and highlights the importance of moving toward a risk reduction strategy that prioritizes school-level education and support over penalties.

In a statement, James Houle, chairman of the commission and chief sports psychologist at Ohio State, said that “when it comes to making a decision on a matter as important as this, we agree that the members should have the opportunity to vote on the final result.”

“We recommend a radical paradigm shift when it comes to cannabinoids. We want to modernize the strategy with the most recent research to give schools the best opportunity to support the health of student-athletes,” James Houle said in a press release.

The NCAA said the recommendation “aims to refocus the health of student-athletes while recognizing member opinions and the changing cultural and legal landscapes surrounding cannabinoids” and that it is “based on extensive study informed by the industry and subject matter experts,” including doctors and addiction experts.

In 2022, CMAS increased the thresholds for cannabinoids leading to test failure from 35 to 150 nanograms per milliliter of blood, thereby aligning with the policies of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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