NCAA Committee Recommends Removing Cannabis from Banned Substances List

The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CMAS) last week recommended removal of cannabis from its list of banned substances for all three divisions, calling instead for a “robust educational strategy.” The organization first announced in June they were considering the reforms. 

The committee concluded that removing cannabis from its testing protocols acknowledges the ineffectiveness of existing policy, which includes banning, testing, and penalizing; affirms the role of the NCAA drug-testing program to address only performance-enhancing substances; and emphasizes the importance of moving toward a harm-reduction strategy that prioritizes education and support at the school level over penalties. 

In a statement, James Houle, committee chair and lead sport psychologist at Ohio State, said that “When making a decision on an important topic like this, we agree that the membership should have an opportunity to vote on the final outcome.”  

“We are recommending a big shift in the paradigm when it comes to cannabinoids. We want to modernize the strategy with the most up-to-date research to give schools the best opportunity to support the health of student-athletes.” — Houle in a press release 

The NCAA said the recommendation “aims to recenter student-athlete health while recognizing membership opinions and the shifting cultural and legal landscapes surrounding cannabinoids” and that it is “based on extensive study informed by industry and subject matter experts” including doctors, substance misuse experts, and membership practitioners. 

In 2022, the CMAS raised its cannabinoid thresholds that lead to a failed test from 35 to 150 nanograms per milliliter of blood, aligning it with the policies of the World Anti-Doping Agency.   

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NCAA Committee Recommends Removing Cannabis from Banned Substances List

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