There are many reasons why professional sports should stop testing and let athletes enjoy cannabis both medicinally and recreationally. It feels antiquated how they treat it – even though it continues to be more accepted in Canada and the United States every day.
Some sports are moving forward. The National Basketball Association decided to suspend random marijuana tests for the 2020-21 season. But suspending for a season is not the same as stopping altogether. Here are some of the reasons why pro sports should leave testing for cannabis.
Teams Play in Canada Where it is Fully Legal
Excluding the National Football League – at least one team in the next four biggest leagues in North America have at least one team in Canada (and three for the Major League Soccer and seven for the National Hockey League). In Canada, cannabis is fully legal. You can easily buy it – and as long as you are not using it and driving/operating heavy machinery (or anything else dangerous) and are of the legal age, you pretty much have free reign to do it as you want.
Because it is legal in Canada, it makes it a bit of a grey area for leagues when testing for it. On the one hand, most professional sports teams are run by older, more conservative owners – the types who are slower to adapt to changes. On the other hand, if cannabis is treated essentially the same as tobacco and alcohol, it is hard to punish people for using one if you are not punishing them for using the others.
Many Places in the United States it is Legal
Like Canada, multiple states have legalized cannabis for recreational consumption. As more states continue to legalize it, it seems unreasonable to continue to test for it. If an athlete is playing in one state where it is legal, they should be allowed. It is 2021 – there are much bigger issues to deal with than athletes using cannabis.
Provides Athletes with an Alternative Treatment for Pain
This is probably the most prominent issue for why leagues (especially contact sports) should quit testing for pot.
While some athletes prefer to use traditional opioids to treat pain, many look for alternatives as opioids are easy to abuse and can have some serious long-term effects. Cannabis and CBD is one alternative many athletes would prefer to use if their leagues would allow it. While many leagues are making changes to allow athletes with prescriptions for medical marijuana to use it with impunity – it does not include athletes who are simply tired and sore from playing sports for a living.
Potential for Sponsorship Deals
Every league lost money last year – as seasons were delayed or cancelled, arenas were empty or at limited capacity, and the extra money needed for testing and safety protocols. But if leagues were to allow players to use cannabis, it could open the door for sponsorship deals with cannabis companies. Major League Soccer recently considered deals with cannabis companies – but nothing was finalized on a league-wide level.
Even if the deals are not nearly as lucrative as those with beer companies – it presents another stream of income, even if they just allow individual teams to make their own deals.
Testing for Cannabis is a Waste of Resources
Most agree some substances should be banned from professional sports. But those are usually performance-enhancing drugs – like steroids and HGH (human growth hormones). But testing and regulating these helps keep the sport safer and maintain the integrity of the game.
Leagues should use their resources on this and not testing for cannabis. It would save them time and money – and likely have no impact on their image.
Connect with the Younger Viewers
We do not mean by promoting your athletes using cannabis – but younger audiences are more progressive and often view the whole of the league by how it adapts and moves forward. A league that stops testing (or allows cannabis usage where it is legal) could connect with the younger viewers – who use themselves or are simply indifferent on the subject but pro the idea of leagues operating in 2021.