Major League Baseball announced substantial changes Thursday to its drug use and testing policy, multiple news outlets reported.
In addition to removing marijuana from its "drugs of abuse" category – making it the first major US sports league to do so – the organization announced mandatory testing for the presence of opioids, cocaine, synthetic THC, LSD and fentanyl, ABC News reported.
Today, @MLB and the @MLB_PLAYERS jointly announced significant changes to the Drug of Abuse provisions of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. pic.twitter.com/jIie1JDVAg— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) December 12, 2019
Per the policy revisions, players will still be tested for "natural cannabinoids" such as THC, CBD, and marijuana, but punishment for violations will now be treated similarly to those of the alcohol and violence policies, ABC News reported.
"Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties' Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player's Club or the Commissioner's Office in response to certain conduct involving Natural Cannabinoids," the league, in association with its players union, stated.
According to NPR, the policy changes will take effect during 2020 spring training.
"The opioid epidemic in our country is an issue of significant concern to Major League Baseball," MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said in a prepared statement, adding, "It is our hope that this agreement - which is based on principles of prevention, treatment, awareness and education - will help protect the health and safety of our Players."
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