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NCAA Easing Marijuana Use Penalties for College Athletes

NCAA Marijuana

The NCAA has tested for marijuana and performance-enhancing drugs since the 1980s. Student athletes who failed a drug test resulted in a full-season suspension. But many schools are now reducing those penalties to as little as 30 days, with some schools not doling out punishments until a third or fourth failure.

A minimum of one-third of the Power Five conference schools have lessened punishments for testing positive for marijuana, reports Huffington Post.

In 2014, the NCAA cut the penalty for substance abuse, including marijuana, in half. The chief medical officer of the NCAA wants to see the stoppage of testing for recreational drugs completely.

Society’s views on marijuana have changed greatly over the last decade. Recreational use is legal in four states. In both Utah and Oregon, athletes testing positive for marijuana do not face any real consequences until a 3rd failure.

The Associated Press analyzed drug policies for 57 schools across the country. This included schools in the Pac-12, Big 10 and Notre Dame. The findings showed that 10 schools have separate marijuana policies and 23 schools have reduced policies over the last decade. Five schools in the Pac-12 conference reduced suspension times and the number of infractions needed to warrant punishment.

Some of the reduced punishments include:

  • Washington – 30 day suspension after a 3rd failed test
  • Utah – ½ season suspension after a 3rd failed test
  • Oregon – no punishments until a 4th failed test

In most cases, a first infraction results in counseling rather than suspensions and stiffer punishments.

Coach Mike Riley of Nebraska says that “Through my years of coaching, I can almost pick out the guys who have a marijuana problem. You give me three weeks with a team and, if you’ve got five guys, I could get three or four of them.”

The medical chief for the NCAA, Dr. Brian Hainline, says that NCAA schools should focus more on performance-enhancing drugs than recreational drugs. The schools themselves should deal with recreational drug use punishments themselves.

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