Cannabis is no longer considered a performance-enhancing drug in Nevada after the state’s Athletic Commission voted to overturn a longstanding ban on the drug’s use by athletes.
The move comes six months after UFC – which is based in Las Vegas and holds many of its marquee fights in the state – lifted its own ban on cannabis use by its fighters.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) is the official regulator of organised sports in the state, including UFC, and its decision means that fighters and other athletes competing in Nevada will no longer be tested for the drug as part of doping checks.
Unlike the World Anti-Doping Association, which labels the drug a ‘substance of abuse’, Nevada had previously designated cannabis a ‘performance-enhancing drug’, with athletes required to test for cannabis use both in and out of competition.
The recent liberalisation of cannabis laws across the US, however, has caused many regulators to rethink their positions on the drug when it comes to use in sport, especially given the growing number of high-profile athletes who have said that using cannabis helps them cope with the pressures of elite competition.
NSAC executive director Bob Bennett explained that the committee’s vote brings Nevada’s regulations on cannabis use in line with WADA. ‘I think our goal is to test for performance-enhancing drugs to ensure a level playing field,’ he said, per MMA Junkie. ‘The fact that it is not a performance-enhancing drug, I do not believe we should test for it any longer.’
Under the new rules cannabis will now be treated similarly to alcohol, with fighters only punished if they are ‘visually impaired’, in the same way as they would not be allowed to compete if visibly drunk.
Despite the change in regulations, UFC fighters currently serving bans for marijuana use won’t have their punishments overturned, with the NSAC rejecting proposals to make the rule change retroactive.
In a tweet, UFC Senior VP for Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky gave his support to the changes, posting:
How about that! NSAC no longer sanctioning for marijuana. Crazy that in my tenure with UFC I’ve seen NSAC try to suspend Nick Diaz for life for marijuana, to this.
Big credit to Exec Director Bob Bennett for spearheading this change. Just don’t show up to fight impaired!
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