MLB removes marijuana from drugs of abuse provisions

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A Washington Nationals player reaches for a ball during batting practice before Game 2 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

NEW YORK – Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have made drastic changes to the Drug of Abuse provisions, the MLB announced Thursday.

These changes will begin in 2020 Spring Training.

A press release states, that the MLB and the MLBPA continue to favor a treatment-based approach to Drugs of Abuse, with a particular emphasis on protecting Players from lethal and addictive substances, and providing effective and confidential care and support to Players who need it.

Any drug samples collected will now be tested for the presence of Opioids, Fentanyl, Cocaine, and Synthetic THC.

The MLB says, “Any player who tests positive for one of these Drugs of Abuse will be referred to the Parties’ Joint Treatment Board (composed of medical professionals specializing in substance abuse and representatives from the Office of the Commissioner and the Players Association) for an initial evaluation and, if appropriate, formulation of a personalized treatment plan for that Player going forward. Only Players who fail to cooperate with their initial evaluation or prescribed treatment plan may be subject to discipline.”

They will also be removing Natural Cannabinoids (e.g., THC, CBD, and Marijuana) from the list of Drugs of Abuse.

“Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties’ Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides for mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player’s Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct involving Natural Cannabinoids,” the press release states.

“The opioid epidemic in our country is an issue of significant concern to Major League Baseball. It is our hope that this agreement – which is based on principles of prevention, treatment, awareness, and education – will help protect the health and safety of our Players. I commend the Players Association and its membership for their thoughtful approach to this important issue. We also appreciate the support and guidance offered to us by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. It is our collective hope that this agreement will help raise public awareness on the risks and dangers of opioid medications and contribute positively to a national conversation about this important topic,” says MLB Deputy Commissioner & Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem.

The MLB will also have mandatory education programs on the dangers of opioid pain medications and practical approaches to marijuana for all Players and Club Personnel during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

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