It’s safe to say that when it comes to baseball players’ cannabis use, the MLB appears to be “ahead of the curve.” Currently, the league and the MLB Players Association is working on an agreement that would effectively remove marijuana from the minor league’s list of banned substances. Instead, mandatory drug screenings would shift focus to opioid testing as an effort to curve player use of the highly addicting painkillers, and on a larger scale, combat the opioid epidemic currently plaguing the country.
Currently, professional MLB players on the 40-man roster are not tested for marijuana. But according to The Athletic’s MLB insider Ken Rosenthal, non-rostered minor leaguers could soon enjoy the same luxury—if you want to call it that.
“As part of a new agreement on opioids being negotiated between Major League Baseball and the players’ union, MLB will remove marijuana from the list of banned substances for minor leaguers,” Rosenthal tweeted on Monday.
Last year alone, 13 minor league suspensions were issued by the league. Punishments weren’t a slap on the wrist either. First time offenders would receive a 25-game ban for their first positive test, 50 games for a second failed test, and 100 games for a third positive test. A fourth positive test would result in a lifetime ban.
The move comes on the heels of the untimely death of the Angels’ talented pitcher Tyler Skaggs back in July. The 27-year-old was found with two different types of opioids in his system at the time of his death. The move to take marijuana off of the banned substance list and replace it with the far-more harmful opioids would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Medicinal cannabis is widely considered to be a non-addicting and generally superior alternative for pain prevention and management.
Cannabis in Sports Continue to Show Promise
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s been a major correlation between legal marijuana and the increasingly prevalent use of the plant in some of the major sporting leagues around the world.
The UFC, for example, essentially allows their fighters to smoke weed, so long as they’re not medicated during fights. The WADA only tests subjects directly before and after a fight.
UFC vice president Jeff Novitzky says most fighters utilize marijuana for its post-fight therapeutic capabilities.
“I’d say the overwhelming majority of our fighters use it. express to me that they get great benefits from it,” Novitzky said to the Globe and Mail.
The UFC also recently came to terms with Canadian cannabis company Aurora cannabis to research CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis.
The NHL is another league that has removed cannabis off of their banned substance list, reinforcing the notion that marijuana can be used therapeutically—especially in contact sports.
Other major sporting leagues like the PGA are toeing the line of player cannabis consumption. They’ve (somewhat reluctantly) allowed the use of CBD in the sport, while certain athletes, most notably, Bubba Watson, even have paid CBD sponsorships. THC, however, still remains banned.
The NBA and NFL both remain a bit behind the eightball when it comes to cannabis, although, the NBA has discussed removing cannabis from the banned substance list, and it’s widely believed that the NFL will make major cannabis-related concessions in their next collective bargaining agreement.
But until then, it’s the MLB that remains supreme when governing their players’ cannabis use. And for once, minor leaguers will soon enjoy the same privileges as their professional counterparts—at least when it comes to toking.