NCAA Panel Considers Dropping Marijuana From Its List Of Banned Drugs

An NCAA panel is calling for the association to remove cannabis from its banned drugs list and testing protocols for athletes.

The group, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, believes testing should be limited to performance-enhancing drugs. The committee has asked the NCAA to suspend cannabis testing at championship events while the change is being considered.

The NCAA said in a statement the three NCAA divisional governing bodies still have to introduce and adopt the rule change before cannabis is removed from the banned substance list. The NCAA is expected to make a final decision this fall.

In the last decade, cannabis in the U.S. has gone from a highly enforced drug to a widely accepted one as numerous states have legalized recreational and medical use. According to Gallup, 16% or more than 53 million people smoke cannabis today.

The NCAA has been following the trends when it comes to cannabis use. Last year, the NCAA raised the threshold to trigger a positive test.

Other sports leagues have made changes around cannabis use in recent years. The MLB dropped the drug from its “drugs of abuse” in 2019. In 2021, the NFL announced it would no longer test players in the off-season. Numerous current and former athletes are also participating in the cannabis industry, including gymnast Gabby Douglas and former NBA players Al Harrington and Matt Barnes.

More than 500,000 athletes and 350 schools, including 23 HBCU schools, compete in the NCAA’s three athletic divisions. In recent years much has changed within the NCAA, including that college athletes can now sign name, image, and likeness deals that can pay them anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

According to Outkick, the largest NIL contracts include University of Colorado quarterback Shedur Sanders ($1.6 million), LSU Gymnast Olivia Dunne ($2.7 million), USC quarterback Caleb Williams, and the University of Texas quarterback Arch Manning.