Home Ethics Contemporary Issues How Will Sports Leagues Deal with Marijuana Legalization?

How Will Sports Leagues Deal with Marijuana Legalization?

How Will Sports Leagues Deal with Marijuana Legalization?
A detail of a helmet and yard marker during the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, October 18, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Photo: AP

By Evan Weiner |

April 20 for some reason is a significant day to marijuana users. Apparently, the origins go back to the 1970s when 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 mystery. But how sports leagues and players’ unions handle their marijuana policies in the future is a question as pot usage is slowly being decriminalized.

The NFL suspends players for testing positive for pot despite the fact that players perform in four states that have legalized pot: California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington. Smoking pot is also legal in Nevada, which will get Mark Davis’ Raiders in 2020.

Major League Baseball fines players and players could end up in a drug treatment program. The same holds true for NBA players. 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. A number of states, some of them with professional teams, are considering legalization of marijuana in the very near future. In 2017, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed a bill that legalized the recreational use of marijuana in country. The passage of the legalization of marijuana could happen in June. It appears the Trudeau proposal would put pot on the same playing field as alcohol.

Legalizing marijuana in a state-by-state or countrywide basis 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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