Tension regarding the effects of cannabis keeps exacerbating, due to the constant drive towards legalization. Its medical use is now legal in twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, and in some states, it is available for recreational use as well.
After years of testing professional athletes for using it, the Major League Baseball organization in the U.S. now stated that it has made some changes in their drug testing policies and associated penalties.
To date, the MLB was one of the few major sporting leagues that did not subject players to tests for recreational drugs, but for performance-enhancing drugs only. Their players have a problem if caught in the act or arrested for off-field activities, but they were not randomly tested for drugs like players in other American sporting leagues.
Yet, this year, they started testing their players for opiates and cocaine, after the overdose death of the 27-year-old Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs on July 1.
According to the autopsy results, Skaggs’ death was an accident and occurred as a result of choking on vomit after using drugs and alcohol. His system was high in opioids, including fentanyl, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.
Cannabis will be removed from their list of banned drugs, as it will be considered a recreational substance. “Marijuana-related conduct” will now be treated the same as “alcohol-related conduct,” which presumably involves the penalties for driving a vehicle while under the influence.
Players will be still tested for cocaine, opioids, fentanyl, and synthetic THC, as well as other substances listed under “drugs of abuse,” which include banned substances and drugs classified as Schedule I or Schedule II under federal law.
According to Union head Tony Clark, those found to use hard drugs will be offered a treatment plan, and if they comply with it, they will not face any other penalties.
“Players from our side of the equation recognize that there was an opportunity to take a leadership role here in this discussion. Players aren’t immune to issues that affect all of us, and so the situation this year only heightened that, brought it even closer to home. “
Clark added that the change is a result of the changing attitudes in many parts of the country.
It will also apply to the minor league program, whose players were tested for cannabis to prove they are eligible.
“The minor league program obviously affects a number of our PA members every year because we have a number of guys who sign major league contracts then wind up finding themselves removed from the 40-man roster during the course of the year.
So this was something that, again, as part of the discussion for the overarching baseball player community, was important.”