Ending Marijuana Restrictions for Athletes

by | May 4, 2023


In December of 2019, I wrote about Major League Baseball (MLB), along with the Major League Baseball Players Association, announcing that marijuana use by professional baseball players would no longer be verboten. Concluding my discussion of this new development, I commented that “More professional sports organizations will surely follow in eliminating marijuana use prohibitions.”

On Wednesday, Lester Black of the San Francisco Gate reported details of a new agreement between National Basketball Association (NBA) and NBA players, confirming that the new agreement will “permanently remove marijuana from the league’s prohibited substances list, after years of being tacitly condoned.” This development, noted Black, falls in line with developments in other American professional sports organizations. Wrote Black:

The NBA’s softening marijuana stance comes as cannabis reform advances across the country and nearly all professional sports become more pot-friendly. The MLB and NHL have largely stopped punishing players for testing positive for cannabis and the NFL has relaxed its testing requirements to allow players to use marijuana in the offseason.

Meanwhile, marijuana restrictions for American college athletes competing under the jurisdiction of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have loosened. In February of last year, the NCAA greatly increased the THC threshold for a positive marijuana testing result (following a similar change made by the World Anti-doping Agency) and replaced automatic suspension for a positive marijuana testing results with participation in a school-provided “management plan and education for the student-athlete.”


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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