New NCAA Marijuana Testing Policy Goes Into Effect This Week for College Athletes

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will implement a new policy on August 1 that lowers the threshold for what determines a positive marijuana test, The Baltimore Sun reports.

The NCAA hopes the new policy will deter marijuana use, by making it easier to detect marijuana use through urine tests. The new threshold will be 5 nanograms per milliliter sample, down from 15. Studies indicate marijuana use has increased among college athletes, the article notes.

The organization says that it continues to test for marijuana, even though it does not consider it to be a performance-enhancing drug, because it “is illegal from the federal government perspective, and it is still not clear how the state-federal dialogue will play out,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said. In a news release, the NCAA says it tests for marijuana at its championships and postseason bowl events.

The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has recommended the penalty for a positive marijuana test be reduced from a full-season suspension to a half-season. Mary Wilfert, the NCAA’s Associate Director of Health and Safety, said the committee wanted “to approach non-performance-enhancing drug use in a different way than we approach performance-enhancing drug use.” If NCAA approves the change, it would go into effect in August 2014.

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