MLB Lifting Marijuana Ban in Minors as Part of New Opioid Policy

Major leaguers are not currently subject to testing for the substance

MLB Lifting Marijuana Ban in Minor Leagues
The MLB logo on batting practice balls. (Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty)
By Evan Bleier / December 11, 2019 1:11 pm

As part of a new labor agreement that may allow Major League Baseball to test its players for opioids, the league will no longer count marijuana as a banned substance and will stop testing minor leaguers for its presence.

Earlier this week, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report the news.

“As part of a new agreement on opioids being negotiated between Major League Baseball and the players’ union, MLB will remove marijuana from the list of banned substances for minor leaguers, sources tell The Athletic,” Rosenthal wrote on Twitter. “Major leaguers have not been subject to testing for marijuana.”

It seems a little ridiculous considering major leaguers weren’t even tested for marijuana, but removing the ban in the minors is a big deal as a positive test previously would result in a 25-game suspension for a first offense.

A second positive test would earn a minor leaguer a 50-game suspension, a third would get a 100-game suspension and a fourth would result in a lifetime ban.

In 2019, 13 minor leaguers tested positive and were suspended for marijuana.

In addition to the health benefits marijuana can provide, lifting the ban also makes sense from a legal standpoint in a number of locations.

Of the 123 professional teams spread across MLB, the NBA, NHL and NFL, 45 play in states or provinces where recreational marijuana is legal, according to ESPN.

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