With the wave of cannabis legalization causing changes to long-standing norms and policies in all industries all across the U.S. states, leagues such as MLB (Major League Baseball) have become leaders in adopting the drug and embracing social progression in the sports realm.

Following the trend, baseball’s MLB has recently announced its decision to start testing players for opioids and dropping the punishments of substance abuse to some serious extent. They have announced that players found to be abusing substances like cocaine and cannabis won’t be subject to punishments anymore but will receive treatment and support.

This has been a wake-up call for leagues like the NFL and NBA that are now looking forward to changing their policies on cannabis as well. A recent policy update is that the NFL has made an agreement that includes a modified drug policy for the players. The policy states that the NFL players will no longer be suspended when testing positive for cannabis.

Reduced Testing Periods 

The new policy will also change and modify the drug testing period for the players of the NFL. The players will now be tested every two weeks at the beginning of their training camp instead of being tested every four months. This reduction in the gap amongst players’ testing for cannabis has been implemented with a positive perspective and is meant to uncover the truth about players’ need for help and support at a quick pace. This will help the NFL in capturing substance abuse amongst players at an earlier stage which in turn will be immensely helpful in their treatment and rehabilitation if required.

Increased THC Threshold 

The new policy on cannabis released by the NFL will also increase the previously defined THC threshold for declaring a player as a substance abuse positive. The amount of THC allowed for testing negative was previously 35 nanograms, however it has been raised to a great extent.  Now at 150 nanograms, this will ensure that the players do not get banned, punished, or sent for treatment for consuming a negligible amount of cannabis which is not even harmful to their health and career.

From Punishment to Treatment

The best part of the new and modified NFL’s policy on cannabis is that it’s shifted from the punishment approach, to the concept of treatment. The previous policy was much more critical – testing players with no prior records in the offseason while ten random players were selected for weekly testing during the season. The first positive test was meant to direct the player for a referral program, the second would impose a fine of two game checks, the third would impose a penalty of four game checks, fourth would lead to a four-game suspension, the fifth would lead to a ten-game suspension and sixth would finally lead to a year-long suspension.

These strict regulations have impacted some very talented players such as Randy Gregory and Josh Gordon. They had to adhere to year-long bans because of testing positive for cannabis multiple times, however, the new policy would have prevented this if implemented earlier.

The new policy on cannabis claims that if a player tests positive during the training camp, his test would be sent in for a review by the board of medical professionals appointed at the NFL in mutual consideration of the players and the league. The board will have further rights to decide whether the player should be sent in for treatment and rehabilitation or seems fit for the sport. There is no sanction found in the new policy, which has previously punished the players who tested positive for cannabis.

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