It is no secret that the United States are a few years ahead of everyone on the subject of cannabis legalization. This is again evidenced with this new announcement by Shams Charania, one of the NBA insiders, who is used to providing the latest news: while the season will resume under very special conditions (all teams gathered in Florida with many restrictions) including various tests related to COVID-19 or the use of performance-enhancing substances, the NBA and the NBPA (players’ association) have agreed that athletes will not be tested for cannabis when the 2019-2020 season resumes.
It is hard to know whether this decision will be upheld for the upcoming seasons or whether it is only a temporary measure (or lack of). It seems at the moment that only the end of the ongoing season is concerned, but this news comes in addition to the many recent changes regarding the use of cannabis in US sports. Since February, the NFL has signed a collective agreement leaving athletes free of suspension if testing positive for marijuana. Similarly, the MLB (Major League of Baseball) had led the way in December 2019, when they decided not to impose any cannabis testing for minor league athletes. MLB athletes were exempted from such tests from as early as 2006.
Some changes are also noticeable in sports, but on a more international level and related to CBD (cannabidiol) specifically. The World Anti-Doping Agency – an independent international organization – conducts scientific research and establishes anti-doping regulations and policies in all sports and countries. Although the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids have always been on the list of prohibited substances, the 2018 list specifically says that Cannabidiol is no longer a banned substance. It was published again without being amended in 2020… which means that: CBD is expected to be approved for the 2020 Olympics, which will eventually take place in 2021.
It may come as no surprise, especially considering that many top athletes (Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Eugene Monroe, the Diaz Brothers to name a few) use cannabis and prefer it to traditional medicine. The Diaz brothers (MMA fighters) had already been mentioned in this article about a “Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament infused with cannabis.”
So should we be optimistic to see an evolution happening, or should we despair at the slow pace of implementation? However impatient or excited one might be, it is clear that cannabis image and laws are changing; and new measures are being taken in the United States and around the world. Slowly. But surely?