NCAA Poised to Reduce Punishment for Marijuana Use

Testing positive for marijuana once cost college athletes a year's suspension, but perhaps not anymore. The National  Collegiate Athletic Association's legislative council has proposed reducing the penalty for a positive test from a full season to half a season. The measure is widely expected be approved by NCAA member schools.

The measure will reportedly take effect on August 1. The legislation does not include synthetic marijuana/THC.

The legislative council of the NCAA said that drugs like marijuana should not be placed in the same category as steroids: "Street drugs are not performance-enhancing in nature, and this change will encourage schools to provide student-athletes the necessary rehabilitation."

However, individual schools and conferences will still be able to enforce their own punishments for athletes who test positive for marijuana.

Last week, the top NFL recruit in the nation, Dorial Green-Beckham, was kicked off the University of Missouri's football team. Green-Beckham, however, had other disciplinary and legal problems in his past. Another top-ranking college football player, cornerback Greg Reid, was kicked out of Florida State's football program in 2012 after he was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. Reid later transferred to Valdosta State University, a small Division II school, and recently signed with the Los Angeles Rams. Several NCAA basketball players have also tested positive for marijuana in recent months. 

The NCAA began testing college athletes for drugs in 1986 and approximately 1 percent of tests have shown positive results for marijuana. But recent studies indicate that marijuana use has been rising among college athletes as the drug has become more publicly accepted and even legal in two states with member schools. 

The NCAA only tests athletes for marijuana usage during championship events such as bowls and basketball tournaments. 

Recently, Antonio Cromartie, a cornerback for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, said professional football players should not be penalized for using marijuana. Cromartie says he does not smoke marijuana, but that many players do. 

The topic of legalizing marijuana in the NFL garnered attention in the weeks before the Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. The states in which the two teams play their home games have legalized the drug. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has stated that he was open to the idea of the league letting its players use medical marijuana.

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