America’s favorite pastime is about to get a lot more interesting, at least for players who like to hit weed as much as they do home runs. The MLB (Major League Baseball) and the MLB Players Association have decided that it is a detriment to the health of those who play the sport to test for marijuana. The organizations have determined, instead, that it would be more advantageous to implement a new set of drug testing protocols aimed at keeping players from striking out on opioids. But as far as marijuana goes, it is no longer going to be cause for disciplinary action.
In the latest agreement, the MLB is moving to eliminate the cannabis plant from its list of banned substances. It means Minor leaguers will no longer be subjected to drug testing for the herb, which puts them right in line with the Majors. MLB players have not been tested for pot in almost 20 years. Nope, back in 2002, the MLB put the kibosh on those shenanigans. The league is more concerned these days about players using performance-enhancing drugs and painkillers than it is with them showing up to play with THC in their system.
Still, it took a minute for the Minors to catch up with this progressive drug policy. Until now, these players were at risk of a 25-game suspension if they got nailed for pot even once. They faced a 50-game suspension for testing positive a second time and 100 games the third time around. Players who couldn’t get their act together after that were at risk of getting banned for life. So, you know, the MLB used to take all of that “three-strikes and you’re out” stuff pretty seriously.
But not for much longer.
“As part of a new agreement on opioids being negotiated between Major League Baseball and the players’ union, MLB will remove marijuana from the list of banned substances for minor leaguers, sources tell The Athletic. Major leaguers have not been subject to testing for marijuana,” MLB insider Ken Rosenthal wrote in a Twitter post earlier this week.
Marijuana is still struggling, however, to find acceptance in all sports. The National Football League (NFL) doesn’t allow players to use it, not even for medicinal purposes, and neither does the National Basketball Association (NBA). There are some stiff penalties, too, for those players who break the rules. It was just last month that Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters was suspended for 10 games after he suffered a cannabis-induced panic attack on a flight from Phoenix to Las Angeles. This suspension is reportedly going to cost Waiters $834,483 in forfeited salary. He also misses out on a $1.2 million bonus that was set to come after he completed 70 games during the regular season.
As it stands, the National Hockey League (NHL) is the only professional sports organization that doesn’t give two-flying squirts if their players test positive for marijuana. They still check for it, but they do not impose any punishments — no suspensions or fines — for those who get popped. The only stipulation is if a player shows up to a game stoned and disrespects his team and the sport.
But other than that, weed isn’t a big deal in the eyes of the NHL. In fact, parts of the organization believe that marijuana could benefit players. The NHL Alumni Association is presently involved with a research program to see if cannabis medicine might help players suffering from brain injuries. Other sports organizations are still on the fence about medicinal use.
A report from TMZ Sports suggests that the MLB’s policy change on marijuana and opioids could be a reaction to Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs suffering a fatal opioid overdose earlier this year. Skaggs tested positive for Oxycodone, fentanyl and alcohol at the time of his death.
The MLB’s drug policy change is not quite a done deal, not yet. Tony Clark, MLB players’ union chief, believes the agreement will be finalized before the end of the year. It will be in place before the start of the next season. So, don’t be surprised if you start seeing hotdog vendors hanging around in the dugouts. Baseball players are getting ready to be hella hungry come summer 2020.
TELL US, did you know baseball players are tested for pot in the minor league, but not in the major league?