Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op
With the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspending two more UFC athletes for positive cannabis tests last week, UFC president Dana White says he’s working to “loosen up” the rules when it comes to pot.
Cannabis is legal in the state of Nevada, and the UFC removed weed from its list of prohibited substances in 2019, but the state athletic commission has not yet reformed its policies about the plant, handing out lengthy suspensions to at least five fighters this year.
Trevin Jones, 30, was suspended by the commission last month after he tested positive for cannabis following a miraculous comeback win in his UFC debut at ESPN 15. The win was also rescinded due to his positive test.
The latest fighters to be suspended by the commission are Kevin Croom, who was also stripped of his debut UFC win for a positive test, and veteran fighter Niko Price. Speaking with reporters at a press conference last week, White said he was unaware that Price had also been suspended.
“I didn’t even know (about Price being suspended),” he told reporters, according to MMA news website BJPenn.com. “We’ve been working on (changing the marijuana rules) for a long time. I’m surprised that actually happened. They must have been way over the threshold then. I didn’t even know.”
White went on to say that he supports testing fighters for cannabis use in-competition, but there needs to be a balance.
“You can’t let somebody go into the ring high,” he said. “It just can’t happen, you know? I don’t know what to do with that. But we’re trying to loosen it up. But at the same time, you can’t have guys showing up high.”
White revealed few details about what a compromise could look like when it comes to cannabis, but it’s clear the rules need to be updated.
Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s senior vice president of athlete health and performance, said recently that the rules against pot could be pushing the athletes towards more dangerous substances, like opioids.
Despite the UFC removing cannabis from the banned substances list, athletic commissions are “where the issue continues to remain,”Novitzky said. “By sanctioning on marijuana, I really think we are pushing these athletes to drugs that are even more dangerous,” he said.