The MLB and THC: Looking at the Joint Drug Agreement


The NFL has struggled to incorporate a lenient marijuana policy. Letting players use marijuana can help reduce the dependency on unnatural pain-killers, even though concussions are on the rise. The NBA can suspend a basketball player for at least five games due to violating their drug abuse policy.

RELATED: NFL Players Call to End the Ban on Marijuana in Pro-Football

How does Major League Baseball handle the marijuana situation differently?

Enter the Joint Drug Agreement (JDA). 

With the help from the Major League Baseball Player’s Association (MLBPA), the JDA incorporates the most lenient marijuana policy in all of professional sports. Major League Baseball uses one of the most strict steroid-testing programs in the world, but drugs of abuse like marijuana, THC and hashish have different rules for testing carved out in the JDA.

MLB does not randomly test its baseball players for smoking marijuana. Only if the player is suspected of abusing marijuana do they go to the MLB Treatment Board, who evaluates the player and determines whether or not the suspected player needs to enroll in the drug treatment program.

Players can be suspended for the entire season if they test positive for using steroids or stimulants. For using marijuana? Zero suspensions. Instead, fines cannot exceed $35,000 for any marijuana violations. The likelihood of being suspended for pot use is very low. Players would have to fail the treatment program or be determined by the Commissioner as a threat to other players.

Some gray area has risen from this policy. Under Section 7.E of the JDA, if a player is caught using or possessing an illegal drug of abuse under the court of law, they can be suspended for at least 25 games for their first offense. Yet, in previous cases, convicted baseball players who used marijuana were only admitted to the treatment program.

Minor league baseball players, on the other hand, have very strict policies. Players at the lower level can be tested randomly, even in the off-season. If the player has tested positive for marijuana for the fourth time, they can be out of organized baseball for the rest of their life. Because of the difference between the major league and minor league drug policies, some of the top prospects can be promoted to the majors just to get away from the minor league drug policy.

MLB has been progressive with their marijuana policies compared to other professional sports. It will only be a matter of time until other professional sports adopt MLB’s stance on marijuana. With more information available and more states legally allowing marijuana for recreational purposes, change is coming.


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