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NCAA Committee Recommends Removing Cannabinoids from Banned Drug List

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The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports is recommending that all three levels of the governing body of the NCAA “introduce and adopt legislation that would remove cannabinoids from the list of NCAA banned drug classes,” according to a press release.

After meeting in Indianapolis this week, committee members are also recommending that the NCAA develop a robust educational strategy to accompany a potential change to cannabinoid legislation.


The reasoning for removing cannabinoids from the banned drug list was mostly impacted by the December 2022 Summit on Cannabinoids in College Athletics, and a consensus opinion formed that not a performance-enhancing drug. In addition, officials believe it is best to introduce a harm-reduction approach to cannabis is best implemented at the school level. 

The goal of this recommendation is to recenter student-athlete health while recognizing membership opinions and the “shifting cultural and legal landscapes surrounding cannabinoids.”


The release also goes on the give three main points for removing cannabis from the banned drugs list, including that it:

  • Acknowledges the ineffectiveness of existing policy (banning, testing, and penalizing).
  • Affirms the role of the NCAA drug-testing program to address only performance-enhancing substances.
  • Emphasizes the importance of moving toward a harm-reduction strategy that prioritizes education and support at the school level over penalties. 

“When making a decision on an important topic like this, we agree that the membership should have an opportunity to vote on the final outcome,” said James Houle, committee chair and lead sport psychologist at Ohio State. “We are recommending a big shift in the paradigm when it comes to cannabinoids. We want to modernize the strategy with the most up-to-date research to give schools the best opportunity to support the health of student-athletes.”

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