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Leagues, Players have to Adjust to Marijuana Decriminalization

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Marijuana usage is legal in Washington state but players on the Seattle Seahawks could be suspended for using pot while Seattle Mariners players could be fined. Photo: seahawks.com

April 20, for some reason, is a significant day to marijuana users. It is “Weed Day.” Apparently, the origins go back to the 1970s. The medical marijuana bill that was passed in California was known as SB 420.

How the numbers 4 and 2 along with 0 became a code for marijuana as in 420 friendly is shrouded in deep mystery. But how sports leagues and players’ unions handle their marijuana policies in the future is a question because pot usage slowing is being decriminalized.

The NFL suspends players for testing positive for pot despite the fact that players perform in two states that have legalized pot, Colorado and Washington. Major League Baseball fines players and players could end up in a drug treatment program. The same holds true for NBA players. MLB and the NBA have teams in Denver. MLB has a team in Seattle.

The NHL seemingly is fine with marijuana. Major League Soccer seems to look at pot possession on a case to case basis. The UFC is in line with the government supported World Anti-Doping Agency and will suspend an athlete for a year if caught smoking pot.

The American and Canadian cultures are changing. Last November, voters in four states said yes to legalizing marijuana and starting in 2018, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Washington, DC residents can legally smoke pot.

Now comes this, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pushing a bill that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in country. It appears the Trudeau proposal would put pot on the same playing field as alcohol.

Legalizing marijuana in a state by state basis or countrywide as in Canada will force the hand of sports leagues who will have to justify suspending players for pot use if they live or work in states or countries where marijuana is legal.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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