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NCAA Likely to Remove Cannabis From List of Banned Substances

The NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) signaled its support for removing cannabis from the Association’s banned drug list and testing protocols. The committee will gather input from the membership this summer, with final action expected in the fall.

For the cannabinoid class to be removed from the NCAA list of banned drugs, each of the three NCAA divisional governance bodies would have to introduce and adopt legislation.

The committee will also seek support from the NCAA Board of Governors to stop testing for cannabis at NCAA championship events while legislative action is considered.

The rationale for considering the change was largely informed by the December 2022 Summit on Cannabinoids in College Athletics and includes 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. Additional rationale included:

– 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.

In addition to the policy and testing changes, CSMAS also signaled its support for the development of a comprehensive communication and education campaign that provides guidance to the membership about cannabis.

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