NCAA Penalizes Players For Marijuana Less Now Compared To A Decade Ago, Reforms Still Needed

ncaa marijuana

via wikipedia

I am going to put my fan goggles on right now. I am a fan of the University of Oregon, as is the other co-founder of this blog (Jay Smoker). We have been fans for a very long time, and if that results in various jokes being hurled at us it's fine, we have heard them all before. The reason I bring this up is because I just read an article that was released by the Associated Press today which states that large universities are either reducing their penalties for players that test positive for marijuana, or aren't punishing them at all. Per the article:

At least one-third of the Power Five conference schools are not punishing athletes as harshly as they were 10 years ago for testing positive for marijuana and other so-called recreational drugs, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

The NCAA last year cut in half the penalty for athletes who fail screenings for substances like marijuana at its championship events, and its chief medical officer is pushing for college sports' governing body to get out of the business of testing for rec drugs altogether. The AP found that some of the nation's biggest universities, from Oregon to Auburn, have already eased their punishments as society's views on marijuana use have changed. Marijuana use among U.S. adults has doubled over a decade, according to government surveys, and recreational use is now legal in four states.

To me the article was misleading. Yes, penalties have been reduced over the years, but the article made it seem like people getting busted for failing a drug test in college athletics is somewhat rare. That's not true. Athletes get busted all the time, and get handed down very harsh penalties as a result. When I read the article I instantly thought about Oregon Ducks receiver Darren Carrington who was suspended at the end of last year for testing positive for marijuana. Carrington was suspended for the last year's championship game, and had to miss games to start this year.

That's why I found it ironic that the Oregon program was specifically mentioned in the AP article. Would Darren Carrington have received an even harsher punishment ten years ago? I suppose. But did he still get hit with an overly harsh penalty for having marijuana in his system last season and into this season? You better believe it. Darren Carrington could have used marijuana only one time in the previous month leading up to the failed drug test, and that would have been enough for him to be suspended. However, had he just binge-drank alcohol to the point of almost dying a week or so before the drug test, that wouldn't have shown up and he would have been fine. That's clearly a double standard, and highlights that there is still a lot of work to be done to reform the NCAA's outdated drug testing policies.