Professional athletes often get drug tested as past of a rigorous program to eliminate performance enhancing substances within sport. These drug tests often screen for cannabis.
Even as the substance has become legal to buy and use in many states and has been clinically proven to be safer than alcohol and opiates – both of which are largely tolerated by most major sports leagues around the world – the drug still remains prohibited in many sports.
Last week however, the MLB (Major League Baseball) organization announced a new policy to drug tests and associated penalties. The MLB has been widely publicized to have no real test for its players for recreational drugs until recently. While they did have an official list of banned substances for a number of years, they only actually tested their players for performance-enhancing drugs, not their recreational counterparts.
Players may have gotten into a spot of bother if they were caught in the act or if they were arrested for activities away from the field, but as a rule, their was no governing body that forced them to take random drug tests.
This is all set to change in 2020 when the league will introduce new tests for cocaine and opiates. However, the league says that cannabis will be removed from their list of banned drugs and will be considered a recreational substance like alcohol.
In an ironic twist, the harmful compounds in synthetic cannabis will be screened for and treated as an abusive substance, as these chemicals are known to play havoc on the human body.
Following the tragic overdose death of the 27-year-old Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs earlier this year, drug testing for opiates and other hard drugs has become a topic of hot discussion among MLB rule-makers.
Tony Clark, head of the MLB union insists that treatment plans will be available for players who are found to be taking hard drugs, and they will not face any further penalties if they comply with the treatment plan.
Tony Clark said:
“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,”
Clark hopes that this policy will reflect the current reality of drug science.
“It was a part of a larger conversation that was reflective of the attitudes changing in many parts of the country,”
The new drug policy also applies to the minor league program, which currently tests players for cannabis to determine eligibility to play.
“The minor league program obviously affects a number of our PA members every year because we have a number of guys who sign major league contracts then wind up finding themselves removed from the 40-man roster during the course of the year. So this was something that, again, as part of the discussion for the overarching baseball player community, was important,”