NCAA Panel Calls for Removal of Marijuana from Banned Drugs List

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Aliyah Boston of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks holds up the national championship trophy after defeating the University of Connecticut Huskies during the 2022 championship game on April 3, 2022
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The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) supports removing cannabis from the NCAA’s list of banned drugs. The support is based on the “consensus opinion that cannabis is not a performance-enhancing drug and that a harm reduction approach to cannabis is best implemented at the school level.”

CSMAS also suggested: 

  • “Focusing on testing for substances that provide an unfair advantage by enhancing athletic performance.
  • Shifting toward a harm reduction philosophy for cannabis, similar to the approaches taken with alcohol.
  • Realigning toward institutional testing and how that testing supports/enhances campus efforts to identify problematic cannabis use.
  • Educating student-athletes on the health threats posed by contemporary cannabis and methods of use.
  • Identifying and explaining relevant harm reduction/mitigation strategies to those student-athletes who choose to legally consume cannabis.”

For the change to be made, each of the NCAA’s three governing bodies will have to adopt the new rule. Final decisions are expected to be made in the fall, but CSMAS suggested that the NCAA stop testing for cannabis at championships while deliberations are underway.

The change follows from last year when the NCAA raised the positive test threshold for THC.

1. Should the NCAA (or other sports governing bodies) remove marijuana from the list(s) of banned drugs? Why or why not?

2. Should marijuana be legal for adult and/or medical use? Why or why not?

3. Should other drugs be removed from or added to banned drugs lists? Explain your answer(s).

Juliana Kim, “The NCAA Looks to Weed Out Marijuana from Its Banned Drug List,”, July 17, 2023

NCAA, “CSMAS Signals Its Support for Removing Cannabis from Banned Drug List and Drug-Testing Protocols,”, June 16, 2023