Despite marijuana’s growing acceptance in the medical field and being legalized in some states for recreational use, UFC president Dana White believes its use will always be banned in combat sports.
“This is a real tough question because at the end of the day people look at marijuana differently,” said White during a recent press conference when asked if he thought athletic commissions would eventually removed it from the banned substance list.
“Even if it becomes legal and you can hang around your house and you can do it, or do it out in public, when you’re competing in a sport… the reason that there’s medical marijuana is for people who are cancer patients, for pain and things like that. I think it’s still going to be looked at as a type of pain killer or something, and pain killers are banned substances,” he added.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use and three states have decriminalized the plant for recreational purposes. While White believes it will always be banned, he thinks that the amount that can be in an athlete’s system may be increased.
“I don’t think there’s ever going to be a day where marijuana is okay for athletes, but the amount of nanograms that can be in their system might go up a little bit. They might allow more nanograms,” said White.
In May 2013, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) raised the in-competition threshold for marijuana tenfold, from 15 to 150 nanograms per milliliter. In September of the same year, the Nevada Athletic Commission raised the accepted level of marijuana metabolites by three times, from 50 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL.