Players in the National Football League will no longer face suspensions if they test positive for marijuana under a new collective bargaining agreement approved by team owners on Thursday. The agreement is now being circulated among players, who are expected to consider the new terms with their representatives during a conference call this Friday.
If the agreement is ratified, the league would implement several changes to its drug policy covering the use of cannabis by players. The new policy would reduce the penalties for players who test positive for THC, including the elimination of game suspensions solely for a positive test result, according to a fact sheet released by the NFL Players Association that covers the agreement's key terms.
The new policy would also reduce the number of players subject to testing for THC and would shorten the window during which they may be tested from four months to only two weeks at the beginning of training camp each season. The limit for THC metabolites detected in a drug test would also be increased from 35 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL.
Word that changes to the league’s cannabis policy would be included in a renegotiated collective bargaining agreement first broke earlier this month. On Saturday, Mike Florio of NBC Sports reported that the new collective bargaining agreement would “include dramatically reduced penalties, with suspensions happening only in the event of extreme and repeated disregard of the policy or significant violations of applicable law regarding the possession and use of marijuana.”
The collective bargaining agreement approved by owners on Thursday also includes provisions that increase the minimum salaries and expands benefits for active and retired players. The league announced on Thursday that the owners had voted to ratify the agreement at a meeting in New York City.
"Following more than ten months of intensive and thorough negotiations, the NFL Players and clubs have jointly developed a comprehensive set of new and revised terms that will transform the future of the game, provide for players — past, present, and future — both on and off the field, and ensure that the NFL's second century is even better and more exciting for the fans,” the statement reads.
Major League Baseball has also announced changes to its cannabis policy, revealing in December that it would remove marijuana from its list of banned substances for players. Although testing for cannabis ended for major league players in 2006, minor league ballplayers were still being tested for THC and were subject to disciplinary action for a positive result.
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