Cannabis use among athletes is a controversial topic. Some sporting leagues have adhered to federal law, which classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and banned their athletes from consuming marijuana.
In the past, professional sporting leagues such as the NBA and the NL tested for cannabis and often imposed punitive measures on athletes who failed these tests. However, the conversation regarding professional sports and cannabis peaked when American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended from participating in the Olympics after testing positive for THC, the main psychoactive agent in cannabis.
Richardson had consumed cannabis in Oregon where both recreational and medical marijuana is legal, and her suspension was met with furor. Drug reform activists as well federal candidates and several members of Congress condemned her suspension, with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin calling the ban on cannabis a “significant and unnecessary burden” on athletes’ civil liberties in a letter to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (“USADA”) and the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Hip Hop legend and well-known cannabis connoisseur Snoop Dogg recently weighed in on the debate at a talk show where he voiced his support for cannabis use among athletes, especially as an alternative to opioids. When guest host Stephen A. Smith asked for his opinion on the matter on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Snoop Dogg said that sports leagues ought to stop testing their players for cannabis and update their policies to allow athletes to use cannabis rather than prescription opioids.
Currently a sports commentator for ESPN, Smith asked Snoop whether athletes should stay away from cannabis to avoid penalties that may cost them money. Snoop said that while entertainers such as himself who did not have to adhere to such policies could consume cannabis, athletes who have rules to follow and are subject to tests should indeed avoid using cannabis as it could jeopardize their income.
However, Snoop Dogg still isn’t at all sold on the idea that athletes should be penalized for using cannabis. A lot of athletes are prescribed opioids to help alleviate the aches and pains that come with being a professional athlete, he says, and they eventually get addicted to the medications, even though the medications don’t actually provide the relief the users are looking for.
Thanks to cannabis, however, athletes have been able to alleviate pain and anxiety without experiencing the side effects pharmaceuticals are known for. The fact that different sports leagues hold players to different standards regarding drug testing doesn’t make sense, he says, and sports leagues should reform and standardize their cannabis policies.
Thanks to Richardson’s controversial suspension, the case for cannabis reform in sports is gaining even more steam. The NBA put random drug testing on hold during the early days of the pandemic, and according to the league’s top official, this policy change may be permanent. The MLB already removed cannabis from its list of banned substances in 2019, and the NFL changed its policies to protect athletes who receive positive results for any drug test, including cannabis, from being suspended.
The views expressed by Snoop Dogg regarding the medical use of marijuana aren’t entirely unfounded as companies such as RYAH Group Inc. (CSE: RYAH) are bringing to market smart devices designed to help consumers measure precise doses of the marijuana they smoke for therapeutic purposes.
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