NCAA Raises THC Limits for Student-Athletes

The NCAA is relaxing the THC penalty threshold for student-athletes from 35 to 150 nanograms per milliliter of blood. The new limits align with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Full story after the jump.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which governs college athletics in the U.S., has changed its cannabinoid policies for student-athletes. In a press release last Friday, the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) said they were raising the THC threshold from 35 to 150 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

The cannabinoid limits are now aligned with those of the World Anti-Doping Agency and the changes are immediate and backdated to cover tests administered in fall 2021 and later, the press release says.

“Reconsidering the NCAA approach to cannabis testing and management is consistent with feedback from membership on how to better support and educate student-athletes in a society with rapidly evolving public health and cultural views regarding cannabis use,” Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer, said in a statement.

Additionally, the committee changed the penalties associated with a positive THC test. Under the new rules, athletes would not be suspended from games until they fail a second drug screening. These updates will take longer as each NCAA division must change their bi-laws individually, the release notes.

“Marijuana is not considered a performance- enhancing substance, but it remains important for member schools to engage student-athletes regarding substance use prevention and provide management and support when appropriate.” – Dr. Brian Hainline in a statement

Dr. Stephanie Chu, CSMAS chair and Colorado’s team physician said the changes came after “extensive discussion” by the drug testing subcommittee, which has been meeting since last fall. She said the updates to the NCAA cannabinoid policy “create a clear pathway for student-athletes to participate in education and management programs specific to their needs at the campus level.”

More penalties info:

  • “First positive test: No loss of eligibility if the school provides a management plan and education for the student-athlete.
  • “Second positive test: No loss of eligibility if the school provides additional management and education and confirms the student-athlete was compliant with the original management and education plan. However, the student-athlete must be withheld from 25% of regular-season contests if they were not compliant with the original management and education plan.
  • “Third positive test: No loss of eligibility if the school provides additional management and education and confirms the student-athlete was compliant with the previous two treatment and education plans. However, the student-athlete must be withheld from 50% of regular-season contests if they were not compliant with the previous management and education plan.”

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