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Marijuana Legalization Will Not Change Sports or College Policies

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Marijuana legalization in Washington State and in Colorado may not even benefit two groups of people that historically may have benefited from pot’s decriminalization: professional athletes and college students. Colorado’s Amendment 64 and Washington’s Initiative 502 respectively legalized the drug for personal use, though both legislative measures passed with a slim majority of the votes. While a mixed reaction was expected, notable professional sports entities like the NFL, MLB, NBA and the NCAA, along with state universities will, for the time being, defer to Federal law in addressing the new freedom to smoke in those states.

Effects of Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana legalization will have no immediate effect on professional sports’ substance abuse policies, which all prohibit pot smoking. Professional athletes have been arrested for possession for years, and it appears as if this trend will continue as long as the inveterate drug policies remain in place for the sports’ governing bodies. NFL spokesman Gregg Aiello has publically stated that “The Colorado and Washington laws will have no impact on the operation of the policy.”

Marijuana Is An Illegal Drug

In a similar vein, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper cautioned everyone by declaring “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t [sic] break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.” This comment can easily be considered an oblique statement to college students who may find the need to indulge in the munchies following a session of pot smoking. The biggest motivation behind the universities’ quick compliance may be that fact that they run off large amounts of Federal funding. State colleges are in the tenuous position between state and Federal legislation, and this “sandwiching” will be sure to polarize certain enclaves of universities’ student bodies. College athletes are not immune to authoritative assemblies; the NCAA will keep drug testing parameters the same that they have been, even though the marijuana legalization bills have passed. The NCAA released a statement that shed some light onto their own rhetoric: “The NCAA banned drug and testing policies are not tied to whether a substance is legal for general population use, but rather whether the substance is considered a threat to student-athlete health and integrity of the game.”

So for now the professional and collegiate-level athletes will not be affected by the marijuana legalization bills passed in Washington State and in Colorado. This may change in the future, as the Federal government works out the particulars and nuances of state rights in conjunction with their own policies.

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