The UFC and the US Anti-Doping Agency have updated their marijuana policy to allow for the consumption of cannabis.
The UFC has made headlines today after announcing that the organization, in conjunction with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will no longer reprimand fighters that test positive for marijuana use.
Every cannabinoid, including THC and CBD, is now permissible within the sport, provided that athletes aren’t using the plant to improve their performance, and that they aren’t intoxicated during their fights.
Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s senior vice president of athlete health and performance said that “in regard to marijuana, we care about what an athlete consumed the day of a fight, not days or weeks before a fight, which has often been the case in our historic positive THC cases.”
However, this isn’t entirely a green light for fighters who like to consume cannabis, as Novitzky states that “UFC athletes will still be subject to marijuana rules under various athletic commission regulations.”
Ultimately, the buck stops with Athletic Commissions and not specifically the UFC when it comes to determining a penalty for fighters found using cannabis, but the move certainly represents a step in the right direction nonetheless.
“Why the hell do we care what someone did a week before, let alone a night before, when it doesn’t have any effect on their ability to fight,” Novitzky said.
“This change is designed to prioritize fighter health and safety by not punishing fighters who may need treatment for substance abuse, which may lead to a fighter being impaired and jeopardize his or her safety in the Octagon.”
As we’ve discussed previously, athletes find themselves using painkillers at a rate three times as high as the general public, and cannabis may provide a safer alternative than a potentially addictive opioid or steroid painkiller.
The move follows a generally pro-cannabis stance held by the UFC, who collaborated with Aurora Cannabis to study the effects of cannabidiol, and whose fans were found to be the biggest consumers of cannabis in any sport.