Amidst possible change to NCAA marijuana rules, athletes share thoughts

Amidst possible change to NCAA marijuana rules, athletes share thoughts

As the National Collegiate Athletic Association looks at the possibility of removing marijuana from the banned substances list in the fall, Oregon State University athletes share their thoughts on what the decision could mean for college athletics. 

According to the NCAA press release, the decision to move this potential policy change to a vote came from the organization’s 2022 summit on cannabinoids in college athletics. 

In order for the policy change to pass however, all three NCAA divisions will have to vote in favor of removing cannabinoids from the banned substances list. 

The summit saw rationale for removing the substance from the banned list to shift focus to more performance enhancing drugs (as cannabis is not considered one) and a shift in harm reduction philosophy to be dealt with similar to alcohol and at the university level. 

“From a sports point of view, whether the rule stays the same or if it changes I think it wouldn’t impact play all that much,” said Josh Green, a punter on OSU’s football team. “As long as it’s being used responsibly and it’s not affecting or impacting the team, I don’t see it as a hindrance.”

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For Green, he says his stance is pretty neutral on whether the policies change or not but can see ways that if cannabis were allowed, could help those who have medical conditions that can be treated with the substance. 

Green also notes that cannabinoids should be treated the same as alcohol and can have both positives and negatives depending on the athlete that uses them. 

“Any type of substance people can get addicted to or they can abuse a substance or it can negatively impact teams,” Green said. “If someone, you know, a star player or a player on a team is doing it too much and it starts impacting their play that can be a real issue.” 

Green proposed that instead of testing purely for the substance’s presence in an athlete’s system, with the policy change, testing for how much is in their system could be a protective measure for those who might be relying on the substance too much. 

“I think they’d still have to test it, but just in a different manner,” Green said. 

Overall, Green’s take on the possible policy change is neither for nor against but would rather leave decisions up to individual athletes. 

“If you want to be the best athlete you can be, you kind of gotta decide what’s good and bad for you,” Green said. “And I think that should be left up to the players and probably not the NCAA.” 

Former Oregon State wrestler and current The DAM RTC wrestler Devan Turner, however, has a different stance on the policy.

“I am not for removing the ban, I think that part of being an athlete takes sacrifice and so I think it should be there,” Turner said. “I think especially being in college, you have so much access to it. I think it’s gonna be counterproductive for the athletes.”

While Turner is not a fan of cannabinoids overall, he does note that of the substances to be in question of being removed from the ban, this is not the worst option. Additionally he mentioned that the main concern comes with how drug testing would change.

“They usually just test for like marijuana so I don’t know what they’re gonna be testing for now,” Turner said. “I think they’re gonna have to start doing blood drawn tests now versus urine tests, so how’s that gonna affect the programs that have to pay for their drug tests?”

Although anabolic steroids and similar substances can be detected in regular urine tests, additional substances such as testosterone boosters are not always found. 

Oregon State Athletics’ current drug testing policy provides two causes to test an athlete. The first being based on individual reasonable suspicion and the second being random tests that all athletes are subject to. 

If the policy were to be changed on a national organization level, Turner thinks that OSU athletics will follow suit with removing the ban on cannabinoids. 

“I think we’re honestly one of the front leaders, especially within the PAC 12, of changing things,” Turner said, citing the push to change the name of the University of Oregon versus OSU game and helping athletes with name, image and likeness deals. “So I think that if… the marijuana ban was lifted, that Oregon State would go with it.”

Both Turner and Green agree that if the vote falls short in the fall that the topic will come up again.

“This is something you can now buy from a store so now that you can do that, I think it will consistently come up until it changes and I think ultimately it’s inevitable,” Green said. 

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