The NCAA said Friday it was increasing its THC limits allowed in its mandatory drug testing program.
The maximum THC threshold for college athletes in mandatory doping tests was 35 nanograms per millilitre. The threshold was raised to 150 nanograms per milliliter with immediate effect. The NCAA said it applies to all drug tests administered “in fall 2021 or later.”
“Reconsidering the NCAA’s approach to cannabis testing and management is consistent with member feedback on how to better support and educate student-athletes in a society where public health and cultural views regarding cannabis use are changing rapidly,” said NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline. said in a statement. “Marijuana is not considered a performance-enhancing substance, but it remains important for member schools to engage student-athletes in substance use prevention and provide management and support where appropriate. “
Students who test positive for marijuana under the new rules can also retain eligibility after up to three positive tests. After an initial positive test, a school must provide “a management and education plan” for the athlete. The athlete may then remain eligible after the second and third positive tests if deemed compliant with this management plan. If they are found to be non-compliant — and there are no details in the NCAA’s release as to what that might mean — they could end up being ineligible for part of the season.
The NCAA changes come after the World Anti-Doping Agency said it would revise its marijuana rules in September 2021 and states across the country are legalizing marijuana for various uses and decriminalizing its possession. Marijuana is legal for recreational use in 20 states and territories across the United States and there are only 11 states where THC is either completely illegal or confined to CBD products.