State Athletic Commissions Set to Meet and Discuss More Leniency on Marijuana Testing in July

June 4, 2013 1:12 pm by Jake Chastain


| Word has hit the media wire that a meeting between the state athletic commissions next month could determine whether or not combat sports regulators adopt the World Anti- Doping Agency’s more relaxed rules regarding testing for marijuana in combat sports. That, in turn, could be good news for some MMA fighters. Lately we’ve seen many fighters (at least 7 in 2012) forced to forfeit spectacular victories and sometimes “Fight Night Bonuses” because of traces of marijuana metabolites in their system. Pat Healy’s situation is the first and freshest to come to mind.

The MMA community as a whole has voiced their opinion against the punishment for marijuana use by fighters but it wasn’t until recently that fight organizations and now athletic commissions started realizing just how silly testing and punishing for pot really was.

We published an article touching on the UFC’s stance on the topic last weekend but now with the state athletic commissions getting involved this could very well be a huge, nationwide change for the stance on marijuana use in professional sports (combat sports more specifically).

The Association of Boxing Commissions’ medical committee is looking to make a recommendation on whether to follow WADA’s new marijuana threshold, which was raised from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/ mL in an athlete’s urine.

Several commissioners have indicated their support for the change and those voices will be represented at the upcoming conference between athletic commissions, which takes place in late July in San Antonio.

“I leave medical decisions to medical personnel,” Nick Lembo, chairman of the ABC’s MMA rules committee and also a chief regulator in New Jersey’s athletic commission, explained to “But my personal feeling is that I would much rather focus on obvious performance-enhancing drug use like steroids and blood doping.”

“If I was a trainer, I would much rather have my fighter fighting someone who took marijuana than someone who’s blood doping.”

That seems like the obvious argument for any commissioner, fighter, fan or trainer in support of the new marijuana threshold being raised.

The ABC’s medical committee, which is represented by over 50 doctors around the country, apparently met last Wednesday to discuss WADA’s change and also whether therapeutic-use exemptions should be given to medical cannabis users. Marijuana has a very mixed place in MMA, with many fighters saying the drug is widely used for obvious, therapeutic reasons.

It might not take long for regulatory change but the ABC’s president, Tim Lueckenhoff, thinks that the process may take time despite his belief that athletic commissions will fall in step with WADA.

“What it really comes down to is what the regulations in the various states say,” said Lueckenhoff, who also the head of Missouri’s commission. “If it says they go with the WADA guidelines, then its fine. If they have an individual rule that says what the threshold is, then all those commissions have to go through a rule-making process to change that, which unfortunately in state government takes time.”

We’ll continue to cover the progress of this story as it unfolds over the coming months. Stay glued to for more updates regarding the athletic commissions’ decisions on whether to adopt the new rules or keep the old one’s in place.

-Jake Chastain


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