The UFC will no longer punish fighters for marijuana use under new rules

Headlines 15/01/2021

The UFC have announced will no longer be punishing it's athletes for using marijuana, which they announced alongside the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Fighters were previously only tested for THC, the main psycho-active ingredient in marijuana, in competition, meaning a 10-day window before or after a fight.

The new rules state that there will be no repurcussions for fighters who tested positive for marijuana unless  "further evidence demonstrates the substance was taken for performance-enhancing purposes".

"While we want to continue to prevent athletes from competing under the influence of marijuana, we have learned that blood and/or urine levels of carboxy-THC have little-to-no scientific correlation to impairment," UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky says.

"The bottom line is that in regards to marijuana, we care about what an athlete consumed the day of a fight, not days or weeks before a fight, which has often been the case in our historic positive THC cases," Novitzky says.

Kiwi Middleweight champ Israel Adesanya has been vocal about his marijuana use, openly criticising it's criminalisation in New Zealand.

"Based on my informal discussion with athletes, there’s a significant number of percentage of athletes that choose to use marijuana, many for legitimate reasons outside of recreational," Novitzky notes.

"Many use it for pain control, anti-anxiety, to sleep, in lieu of more dangerous, more addictive drugs, so hopefully this being the first step to opening that up so that an athlete on Wednesday night of fight week instead of going to a Vicodin because their knee hurts and they can’t sleep can use a little bit of cannabis and get to sleep and have that pain control. 

"It has no effect whatsoever on a competition on Saturday night, so it’s the right move, and I’m really excited about this revision and that specific policy change."