Major League Baseball announced Thursday that marijuana will no longer be considered a banned substance for players and that it will begin testing players for opioids, cocaine and other drugs.
The MLB made the announcement Thursday in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Association. The organizations said in a statement that “Natural Cannabinoids (e.g. THC, CBD, and Marijuana) will be removed from the Program’s list of Drugs of Abuse.”
“Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct” for players, the statement continued. Players can be disciplined or seek treatment “in response to certain conduct involving natural cannabinoids,” such as violence. However, they will not be subject to punishments for testing positive for marijuana alone.
The change will go into effect beginning in 2020 spring training, according to the organizations.
The statement also said players who test positive for opioids, fentanyl, cocaine and synthetic THC, among other “drugs of abuse,” will be referred to the MLB and the MLB Players Association Joint Treatment Board, which the statement explained is made up of medical professionals “specializing in substance abuse and representatives from the Office of the Commissioner and the Players Association.”
The player and board will formulate “a personalized treatment plan for that player going forward.”
Players will be disciplined if they “fail to cooperate with their initial evaluation or prescribed treatment plan,” not for testing positive for drug use alone in a “treatment-based approach,” according to the statement.
The updated policy comes after the death of 27-year-old Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, whose autopsy showed that he had oxycodone, fentanyl and alcohol in his system at his time of death, according to Reuters.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters Wednesday that Skaggs’s death “was a motivating factor” in “addressing the context of our industry what is really a societal problem in terms of opioids.” Major League players were not previously randomly tested for drugs of abuse unless there was reasonable cause.
White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne ConwayPennsylvania Republican David McCormick launches Senate campaign McCormick drawing support from Trump alumni ahead of Pennsylvania Senate bid Christie says Trump, Meadows should have warned him of positive COVID-19 test MORE praised the updated policy in a statement Thursday.
“We commend Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association for promoting treatment and recovery for those suffering from the disease of addiction and opioid misuse,” Conway said, Reuters reported.
“We appreciate the example that a trusted and beloved American institution is setting for others,” she continued.