Back in January, the UFC - for Ultimate Fighting Championship (the promotional group that puts on mixed martial arts events like UFC 259 in March) - stopped suspending fighters for testing positive for THC on a drug test. They had previously allowed CBD.
However, the UFC’s so-called drug czar Jeff Nowitsky warned at the time: “I don’t want the message to get out to our fighters that, hey it’s free rein now. Because they’re still dealing with athletic commissions.”
While Nevada, where the UFC is based - they usually hold their events in Las Vegas - has yet to align with the UFC’s new cannabis policy, the Florida State Athletic Commission removed it from their list of banned substances on May 4.
The commission followed the recommendation of a new report from the Association of Boxing Commissions that calls for fines rather than suspensions for positive THC tests and not overturning fight results because of pot positives.
According to the report:
“The Committee further states that THC is not a performance enhancing drug. It is a performance suppressor.
"Athletes who test positive for THC should not be punished in the same manner as an athlete that tests positive for performance enhancing drugs.”
Obviously, cannabis is not a steroid, it doesn’t build muscle mass, but it can calm the nerves, reduce pain and provide focus for athletes. It’s long been especially popular among athletes like dirt bikers, distance runners and swimmers. Remember when Michael Phelps was ripping bong hits? Many professional football and basketball players have been known to inhale before games. The NFL and NBA have high usage rates among their players who are predominantly of color.
Marvin Washington, a former NFL player and Super Bowl winner who has a CBD-product line Iso Sport, told The Complete Guide to CBD in 2020: “Guys were smoking in college and in high school. It’s always been part of the athletic culture. And they’ve still doing it today.”
Whether cannabis enhances athletic ability is for another debate. The good news here is more athletes can include it in their regimens and lifestyles without having to fear losing everything they’ve worked so hard for, for a blunt or a joint. It’s always been a tough decision for athletes to make - whether to use cannabis or not, to take the risk. Look what happened to Ricky Williams, who was suspended several times and drug tested more than any other player.
MMA fighter Nate Diaz should be especially happy about these developments. He famously hit a CBD vape pen during the press conference after losing to Conor McGregor in 2016. Diaz’s face was pretty beat up. He said it was the “healing process and for inflammation.”
Now, he can heal with cannabis and not worry about being busted... at least in Florida.