The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has recommended that cannabinoids be removed from its list of banned drugs.
The recommendation follows a study on cannabinoids informed by industry experts such as doctors, substance misuse experts and membership practitioners.
The organisation has also recommended that an educational strategy is developed to accompany this potential change.
When this change will be discussed will be decided by the three governance structures of the NCAA.
The orgainsation writes: “The rationale for considering the change was largely informed by the December 2022 Summit on Cannabinoids in College Athletics and the consensus opinion formed that cannabis is not a performance-enhancing drug and that a harm-reduction approach to cannabis is best implemented at the school level.
“The recommendation aims to recenter student-athlete health while recognising membership opinions and the shifting cultural and legal landscapes surrounding cannabinoids.”
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On the organisation’s website, James Houle, Committee Chair and Lead Sport Psychologist at Ohio State, commented: “When making a decision on an important topic like this, we agree that the membership should have an opportunity to vote on the final outcome.
“We are recommending a big shift in the paradigm when it comes to cannabinoids. We want to modernise the strategy with the most up-to-date research to give schools the best opportunity to support the health of student-athletes.”
The NCAA has said that the decision to discuss the matter and follow a legislative path acknowledges the ineffectiveness of the organisation’s current policy of banning and testing whilst affirming that its drug-testing programme only addresses performance-enhancing substances. Additionally, it notes it would bring the organisation closer to a harm-reduction strategy that emphasises the importance of education over penalties.