LAS VEGAS – The foremost regulator in combat sports has taken a huge step forward in the way it deals with marijuana.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) voted on Wednesday to no longer discipline fighters for cannabis. The NSAC, which regulates some of the world’s most high-profile boxing and MMA fights, is joining the Florida State Boxing Commission, which ceased testing for marijuana altogether in May. The new policy begins Wednesday and is not retroactive to cases that have yet to be tried.
“We must always be at the forefront of these issues,” said NSAC Chairman Stephen J. Cloobeck. “I think it’s justified and deserved because it’s legal in this state.â¦ I think we have to move forward, being the leader as we always have been.”
The NSAC will continue to test marijuana for data over the next six months, at which time it will be determined whether this data collection will continue.
The commission was given the latitude to make this decision not to discipline for marijuana via a note from Nevada Senior Assistant Attorney General Edward Magaw, who was present at the meeting. Magaw said the vote would immediately represent a change in policy that would later be reflected in the commission’s written regulations.
Two UFC fighters were suspended by the NSAC on Wednesday for testing positive for cannabis as part of their March fights in Las Vegas. Gillian Robertson was suspended for 4.5 months and fined $ 2,000 and Misha Cirkunov was suspended for six months and fined $ 4,000. Robertson is eligible to return on August 10 and Cirkunov may return on September 13.
Previously, the NSAC had suspended fighters for up to nine months and fined them a percentage of their scholarship for positive drug tests in competition for cannabis above 150 ng / ml. But the commission has had an inconsistent history when it comes to cannabis. In 2015, he voted to suspend five-year-old UFC fighter Nick Diaz for repeated positive drug tests for marijuana. This suspension was then reduced to one and a half years after appeal.
The UFC, as part of its anti-doping program with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), essentially ended the discipline for marijuana in January. According to Jeff Novitzky, senior vice president of athlete health and performance at the UFC, fighters would only be penalized for using marijuana if they were visibly under the influence on fight nights.
States like California and New York still test fighters for marijuana, but have minimum penalties for positive tests.
Marijuana in sports has been in the news lately. Track runner Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended for a month by USADA for testing positive for marijuana and was made ineligible to compete in the Olympics in her event, the 100-meter.