Finally, some good news surrounding athletes and the utterly insane drug laws that affect their careers and lives.
Sadly, it’s not in the arena of professional sports. We’ll have to keep watching for that pot to boil (pun partially intended). The good news is that the NCAA (that organization that manages all aspects of collegiate sporting) announced on January 15th, 2015, that it has a plan in place to reevaluate the way they go about testing student athletes for recreational drug use.
The idea behind this recalibration is to crack down even harder on performance enhancing drugs with more rigorous testing, while developing alternatives to drug testing for drugs like cannabis that “do not provide a competitive advantage.”
Can I just say it’s about f-ing time? I completely agree that drugs that affect your performance in a positive way, that give you some form of unfair advantage, should be summarily punished and detected. But suspending kids for smoking a little grass while their friends can drink themselves into a coma with no repercussions is asinine.
Cannabis use shouldn’t be treated any differently than drinking beer when talking about student athletes. It should only be treated like a problem if it is a problem. If your star point guard likes to smoke a little weed here and there and the only way you can even tell he does is from a piss test, is it really an issue?
If you’re the coach and your point guard isn’t playing well, bench his ass and talk to him about what may be causing this lackluster performance. Maybe that specific kid is smoking too much, or at the wrong time. But if it’s not causing any problems, it is actually way less risky for the kid to be smoking cannabis, than it is for him to be going to frat parties and doing keg stands. It should be mentioned that in neither college or professional sports is there any sort of alcohol testing.
In a statement released by the NCAA regarding this news, they say, “Given that testing over nearly 30 years hasn’t served as an adequate deterrent – plus the fact that student-athletes who are penalized for recreational drug use by losing eligibility are more likely to drop out of school – the committee suggested the NCAA explore whether a different approach for recreational drugs is warranted.”
Perhaps this will eventually trickle up into the professional ranks. Considering that college is the single biggest feeding source to professional sports, it may end up forcing the hand of the respective commissioners. If you’re banning huge swaths of promising athletes over a little weed, sports as a whole will grow poorer for it. Games would be less exciting, revenue would drop. Trust me, if the NFL/MLB/NBA thought they could make a profit (or stop losing revenue) by supporting cannabis, you would see sativa posters lining the stands.
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Alliance commented, “Punishing athletes for marijuana use has nothing to do with fairness or safety in competitive sports and everything to do with inappropriate extensions of the drug war into American life. It’s great to see the NCAA join with other sports associations in revising this hypocritical and harmful policy.”