sports | 12.11.2019

Here’s How The Top 5 Sports Leagues Test Their Players For Weed

Which of the top professional sports leagues do you think has the most unfair testing regulations with regard to cannabis use?

The world of professional American sports is riddled with controversy surrounding their players medical and recreational use of cannabis. Headlines seem to be made every season with new reports of players testing positive for cannabinoids during drug tests. So how does each pro-league go about testing their players for the cannabis metabolites that can result in advertisers running for the hills?

1. NBA

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Although the league is getting better, the substance abuse program still in place shows just how ignorant the NBA is in terms of cannabis. And the super strict THC limit send a clear message that they want nothing to do with the herb, even if it is used for medicinal uses.

  • Off-season testing: None.
  • Regular season testing: 4 random times per calendar season.
  • Nanograms of THC/ml limit: 15 ng/ml.
  • Penalties: First strike results in a substance abuse program and a $25,000 fine for the second strike. 5 game suspension following a third positive test.


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Because each college can set their own drug regulations for their players, the majority of cannabis punishments in the NCAA are decided by the coaches. This would often result in a slap on the wrist, because who didn’t smoke in college?

  • Off-season testing: None.
  • Regular season testing: Set by each institution.
  • Nanograms of THC/ml: 5 ng/ml.
  • Penalties: Punishments are becoming more and more progressive, with coaches caring less about cannabis use during the season.

3. NHL

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The NHL is notorious for cracking down on harsher street drugs like cocaine, but most cannabis-related news is swiftly swept under the rug.

  • Off-season testing: None.
  • Regular season testing: Random 1/3 of players tested for street drugs.
  • Nanograms of THC/ml: No set amount.
  • Penalties: No disciplinary action unless caught multiple times.

4. MLB

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Union officials are usually the determining factor on whether a player should be tested, and even if they test positive, they will work with players to come to a reasonable solution.

  • Off-season testing: None.
  • Regular season testing: Only initiated with reasonable cause.
  • Nanograms of THC/ml: 50 ng/ml.
  • Penalties: $35,000 fines with possible suspensions.

5. NFL

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All the coverage surrounding pain management and concussions within the league has stirred up the debate on whether the NFL should relax their cannabis prohibition even further. But needless to say, they are still scared of advertisers pulling away hundreds of millions of dollars because of association with the plant.

  • Off-season testing: April-August randomized.
  • Regular season testing: Once.
  • Nanograms of THC/ml: 35 ng/ml.
  • Penalties: Intervention program followed by suspensions and the possibility of a life-long ban.

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