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General News 2024

NCAA Division I removes cannabinoids from banned drug class for championships, postseason football

The NCAA Division I Council voted Tuesday to remove cannabinoids from the banned drug class for NCAA championships and postseason football, effective immediately.

It’s a major change to a rule that has had high-profile consequences over the past decade. While schools have their own drug testing policies and standards for most of the season, the NCAA controls drug testing in the postseason and historically has had much stiffer penalties than the schools.

“The NCAA drug testing program is intended to focus on integrity of competition, and cannabis products do not provide a competitive advantage,” Council chair and Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said. “The council’s focus is on policies centered on student-athlete health and well-being rather than punishment for cannabis use.”

In 2014, Michigan basketball star forward Mitch McGary learned he would be suspended for the entire 2014-15 season due to a positive marijuana test during the 2014 NCAA Tournament. As a result, McGary declared for the NBA Draft and was selected at No. 21 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The NCAA later that year lessened the penalty for a positive marijuana test to half of a season.

In 2019, the NCAA raised the THC threshold for the rule, but three Oklahoma football players were suspended for six games due to positive marijuana tests before the Peach Bowl CFP semifinal game. Those suspensions carried over into the 2020 season.

This NCAA change comes as recreational marijuana continues to be legalized across the country and is legal in 24 states. The NBA removed marijuana from the league’s drug-testing program in 2023 as part of a new collective bargaining agreement. Schools will continue to have individual drug tests and policies.

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(Photo: Isaiah Vazquez / NCAA Photos via Getty Images)