No more testing for cannabis in the Major League Baseball organization (MLB) is the shock news coming from the sport’s organizers. As the world moves towards fully accepting the drug, more and more organizations are dropping testing for cannabis from their drug testing programs. This is a bold move that is sure to send shock waves through the other American professional sporting bodies.
Prior to the announcement, the MLB focussed its drug testing on steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. So whilst it wasn’t testing specifically for recreational drugs or mainstream pharmaceutical medicines, there was always the risk for players. Previously, big-league players who were referred to the treatment board were subject to fines of up to $35,000 for each violation, for use or possession of marijuana, hash or synthetic THC if they failed to comply with the league’s treatment plan.
Hopefully Players Will Move Away From Opiates
In recent years prescription pain killers have been a major source of concern. Players suffer painful injuries that sometimes need these pain relief drugs. This has though been linked to a recent opiate epidemic in the sport. The league has therefore announced that it will be testing for hard drugs more rigorously. The surprise move is that the MLB has decided against testing for cannabis and will instead treaty the drug as it does alcohol. That is to say, if a player wishes to enjoy smoking weed at the weekend, they will view it in the same light as if he has had a few beers.
This new drug policy comes in the wake of the tragic death of 27-year-old Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs who died of a drug overdose. Skaggs was found dead in his Dallas hotel room on July 1. The post mortem revealed that the player from choking on his vomit. There was a toxic mix of the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone and alcohol in his body.
Testing For Cannabis No More Needed Than Testing for Alcohol
The new policy is part of a more pastoral approach to the whole drug problems in the sport. If a player is found to be using hard drugs, he will face no further penalties provided he agrees to take part in the treatment plans that will be made available for all MLB players.
The head of the player’s union, Tony Clark, stated, “Players from our side of the equation recognize that there was an opportunity to take a leadership role here in this discussion. Players aren’t immune to issues that affect all of us, and so the situation this year only heightened that, brought it even closer to home.” He continued that the extent of opioid use among players was difficult to gauge and that the union had concluded that it “wasn’t necessarily a need to take a census as much as there was taking a leadership role in the conversation.”
Angels General manager, Billy Eppler added, “I’m just thankful that the players union and MLB were able to address a serious issue in our nation that doesn’t have any boundaries and crosses lines into sport and work together for the betterment of our players. It shows a lot of human touch on the powers that be and I’m thankful for it.”
Cannabis Can Replace Opiates
There is a growing acceptance that cannabis used for pain relief is a highly effective and less addictive substitute for prescription drugs. It’s great news for the players but also further recognition for cannabis use. Let’s face it if the country’s leading sporting bodies can accept it, then it figures that it will just be a matter of time before the rest of the business world does.
In gives players more freedom with their personal lives. It may also be proved that this new policy will also result in more players turning to marijuana instead of dangerously addictive opiates for their pain management.
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