Boxers and MMA fighters in Nevada who test positive for cannabis will no longer be suspended, thanks to a vote by the state’s athletic regulators. The decision comes in the wake of the controversial suspension of American track star Sha’Carri Richardson from the Olympics this month.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the Nevada Athletic Commission will immediately remove any penalties for a fighter who tests positive for the chemicals found in marijuana. A fighter who appears to be under the influence of the drug on a fight night could still be sanctioned.
Before the change, a positive test for marijuana could leave a competitor facing a suspension of up to nine months and a fine of their purse.
Fighters will continue to be tested for the drug for six months, the newspaper reported. The commission will then decide whether to continue screening for marijuana.
Commissioners unanimously approved the change Wednesday after the controversial banning of Richardson, though they had already planned to discuss the change before the news of Richardson’s test broke.
Other regulators and officials have made similar moves recently as laws prohibiting marijuana in the U.S. and around the world have been relaxed. Nevada legalized recreational marijuana sales five years ago.
Florida boxing regulators in May voted to stop testing fighters for marijuana. All the professional sports leagues have loosened their restrictions on marijuana over the past years. The NFL raised the threshold for a positive test and eliminated suspensions. The NBA stopped random testing for marijuana last year
The Nevada Athletic Commission, made up of five part-time members appointed by the governor, regulates boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts in Nevada, including the licensing and oversight of promoters, ring officials, announcers and competitors.
The number of major athletic organizations that have chosen to cease cannabis testing is growing every year. At this time, America’s Big Four sports leagues (the National Basketball League, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League) have all relaxed their cannabis policies significantly—decreasing the frequency of cannabis testing, or removing cannabis from their banned substances lists altogether.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.