MLB Officially Removes Marijuana From Banned Substances List For Baseball Players
On December 12th, 2019 in a stunning landmark decision, Major League Baseball decided to remove all cannabis products from its list of drugs of abuse. The MLB stated they will treat cannabis the same as alcohol moving forward. They also decided to BEGIN drug testing for cocaine and opioids in this same decision. (Source)
Since Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) came to their first Joint Drug Agreement in 2002, the MLB has been lenient towards the use of marijuana. The focus of the MLB’s drug policy remains on performance-enhancing drugs, not cannabis.
Under the current Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, major league players do not participate in random drug tests for drugs of abuse, such as cannabis. Instead, players are tested upon a reasonable cause of use.
Additionally, if a player exceeds the THC threshold of 50ng/ml, they are not likely subject to suspension. The player will most likely be subject to treatment and/or fines, which cannot exceed $35,000 per violation. With the tolerance of cannabis use in the major league, one would expect to see more proponents of CBD in the organization. David Wells (former pitcher) is one of the only MLB athletes, both former and current, that is an advocate of CBD oil. In an interview with ThePostGame’s David Katz, Wells said, “I wish I knew about it back when I played because I would’ve been all over it. I would’ve taken those risks.”
Discrepancy in Punishment
In the MLB, there is a strong discrepancy between the punishment imposed on major league players and minor league players for the use of cannabis. The MLBPA has opposed harsh punishment for marijuana use, but minor league players are not protected by the union. Because of this, the MLB sets the drug policies for minor league players.
The Minor League Baseball testing program suspends for marijuana use: one positive test results in admittance into a Drug Rehabilitation Program, a second positive test results in a 50-game suspension, a third positive test results in a 100-game suspension, and a fourth positive test results in a permanent ban from organized baseball. The MLB is the only major league sports organization to implement a ban on the use of marijuana.
The MLBPA appears to be the driving factor in the MLB’s lenient approach to marijuana use. The association’s willingness to remove CBD from the list of drugs of abuse has not been discussed. As of now, both the MLB and the MLBPA seem to be content with the current Joint Drug Agreement and there does not seem to be enough push from the players to consider a change in regards to CBD.