NCAA may allow athletes to consume cannabis by fall

NCAA cannabis

The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) may remove cannabis from its list of banned substances, a momentous coup for American college athletes in legal states. Now the inner circle of stoners on every college sports team can take a sigh of relief. The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) signaled support for the move in a press release– the final decision is expected in the fall.

The December 2022 Cannabis in Collegiate Athletics Summit hosted by the Sports Science Institute guided this decision. The Summit was attended by about sixty people learning more about topics like the vocabulary of the plant, the history of cannabis in collegiate athletics, and the legalization movement.

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“CSMAS asked the national office to organize this meeting because it’s critically important the NCAA has the best available data and research on hand to support student-athlete health and well-being both now and in the future,” said Deena Casiero, chair of the CSMAS Drug Testing Subcommittee and director of sports medicine at UConn in a press release.

They also covered therapeutic uses for cannabis– topical for young adults rigorously running, lifting, and competing in contact sports. Cannabis could improve workout recovery time or make a maintenance road run entertaining.

This show of support for the plant is the next step from the Summit as the association considers shifting its stance on cannabis to harm reduction rather than prohibition. Now that CSMAS has publicly supported the rule change governing bodies of the three NCAA divisions must introduce and adopt the legislation for it to go into effect.

The safety committee posits that drug testing should be focused on performance-enhancing substances that give an unfair advantage rather than cannabis.

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CSMAS instructs universities and divisions that move to lift the ban to provide education about the health threats of consumption. The plant would be treated more like alcohol than steroids in their protocols.

Final decisions should come by the start of the fall sporting season. But in the meantime, the committee has urged the NCAA Board of Governors to stop testing for cannabis at NCAA championships until the legislation is being considered.

One by one, professional sports leagues are loosening restrictions on cannabis consumption, allowing players to light up in the off-season or ceasing testing altogether. It makes sense that collegiate athletics follow suit. With penalties retargeted to substances that provide an unfair advantage, more young athletes can explore the plant’s potential.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.