The body of the Florida State Boxing Commission has decided that they will no longer test combat athletes for cannabis.
Following a meeting on Tuesday the panel of voters would essentially cast a ballot on eliminating the need to test for marijuana metabolites. Until recently, many athletic state commissions that operate in conjunction with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) were penalizing fighters should they fail the threshold for marijuana metabolites leading up to their fight. The news came by way of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation spokesperson Patrick Fargason, who explained the matters to ESPN on Tuesday.
“We’re not testing for it,” Fargason said. “We’re not doing anything with it — period.”
Prior to the new regulation, even trace amounts of marijuana were enough to remove a fighter from their scheduled fight. Not only that, but the commission is at liberty to charge the athlete a fine and sometimes the positive test can result in a fight result being overturned (i.e. Kelvin Gastelum‘s TKO win against Vitor Belfort was overturned and ruled a no-contest due to lingering marijuana metabolites).
While USADA changed its policy on marijuana back in Jan, the UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky clarified that a fighter won’t be cleared to fight if they are noticeably under the effects of cannabis. In order for disciplinary action to take place, Novitzky added some clarity to the ruling made back in Jan.
“It would probably require visual signs if the athlete shows up at an event stumbling, smelling like marijuana, eyes bloodshot, things like that,” Novitzky told ESPN in Jan, regarding the UFC’s new policy. “And that’s … something you rarely, if ever, see. I certainly haven’t in my six years with the UFC.”
It seems the Sunshine State is following suit with USADA, and trying to make fighters feel at ease about cannabis consumption. With recent protocols on concussions established, the UFC taking lead and guiding fighters with issues like cannabis consumption are paramount to promoting a safe working environment. Surely, fighters will be pleased to hear the news, and perhaps it will encourage other states to follow the same path.
What do you make of Florida easing cannabis restrictions? Let us know in the comment section below!