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Marijuana Use Okay, Says NSAC

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The NSAC won’t punish fighters for marijuana use as of July 7, 2021, under a new policy change. ESPN’s Marc Raimondi was the first to report this news.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) voted Wednesday to stop disciplinary actions against fighters who test positive for cannabis. NSAC regulates high-profile boxing and MMA fights across the state of Nevada, but mainly the “Fight Capital of the World”, Las Vegas. NSAC joined the Florida State Boxing Commission, which completely stopped testing for marijuana use in May.

The new policy goes into effect immediately, although it does not apply to cases that have yet to be adjudicated, and is not retroactive.

Cloobeck Says Marijuana Use Change is Warranted

NSAC chairman Stephen J. Cloobeck said he believes the move is merited since cannabis is legal in Nevada, citing it as a jump forward for the state that always stays one step ahead.

Marijuana testing will continue for statistical purposes for the next six months. After this period, the NSAC will determine whether to continue data collection on marijuana use with athletes or not.

Nevada Senior Deputy Attorney General Edward Magaw gave the commission leeway to make the decision via a memo. Magaw said he voted in favor of the policy change and reflected this in the commission’s written regulations.

Nine-Month Suspension for Positive Marijuana Test

Prior to the policy change, fighters testing positive for cannabis received up to a nine-month suspension and were fined a percentage of their purse. Only results testing above 150 nanograms per milliliter were considered positive for marijuana.

However, in 2015, UFC fighter Nick Diaz received a five-year suspension after returning several positive drug tests for marijuana. The NSAC later reduced the suspension to 18 months on appeal.

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Many MMA fighters support marijuana legalization and usage in the sport, including Sean O’Malley and Jon Jones.

Two UFC Fighters Suspended for Marijuana Use

The policy changes follow the suspension of two UFC fighters by the NSAC on Wednesday who tested positive for cannabis before their March fights in Las Vegas. Misha Cirkunov received a six-month suspension and a $4,000 fine. She can return to UFC on September 13. Gillian Robertson received a 4 ½ month suspension and a $2,000 fine after testing positive for marijuana. She is eligible to return to the UFC on August 10.

No More Marijuana Sanctions

In January, UFC Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky announced fighters would receive sanctions for marijuana only if they were visibly under the influence on fight nights. 

Other states, like New York and California, still test fighters for marijuana but enact minimal penalties for positive tests.

Chime in: How do you feel about marijuana use in the MMA? Should fighters who test positive for marijuana face fines and suspensions or do you support this new policy change?

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @AmandaG_LWOS for more MMA news and information!

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