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Breaking Down the Cannabis Policies of Every Major North American Sports League

From the NFL and NBA to NASCAR, UFC, tennis, lacrosse, soccer, and golf, Boardroom breaks down how marijuana policies differ across sports leagues.

As more US states legalize cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use, many major North American professional sports leagues are adapting to the changing times.

Are your favorite athletes allowed to consume cannabis? Here’s a quick breakdown of different leagues’ stances.


Under the new seven-year collective bargaining agreement signed this year, NBA players will no longer be tested for cannabis. While testing was paused since the 2019-20 COVID-19 season, cannabis has now been removed from the league’s anti-drug testing program.


Cannabis is still a banned substance in the NFL for two reasons: First, It’s still a banned substance at the federal level, and second, it’s reportedly seen as a bargaining chip in the next CBA. The current agreement runs until 2030, and the league will likely look for some corresponding concession from the players.

Until then, while the NFL doesn’t test players between April 20 and Aug. 9, there are still fines for positive tests and a four-game suspension for four positive tests.


While cannabis is no longer on the banned substance list and players are not tested, MLB players or team personnel who appear under the influence during games, practices, workouts, meetings, or within the scope of their employment are subject to a mandatory evaluation, which could include treatment.


While the NHL does test for cannabis, there’s no punishment for a positive test. However, if a player tests abnormally high, a player will be looked at for treatment like it’s a health matter.


Like FIFA, MLS plays under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, which list cannabis as a banned substance. Players are subject to random tests and offseason drug screenings.


While the WNBA still tests for cannabis, limited use is allowed, and fines or suspensions would only be levied with repeat offenses.

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The NWSL does not test for cannabis and allows its players to have sponsorship deals with cannabis brands.


Golfers on the PGA and LPGA Tours are subject to random drug tests via WADA standards. In 2019, golfer Matt Every was suspended for 12 weeks for a positive cannabis test despite being medically prescribed cannabis in Florida.


In 2021, the UFC announced that fighters who test positive for cannabis won’t be punished.


Random drug tests are conducted on NASCAR race weekends, including for cannabis.


Both the ATP and WTA tours subject tennis players to random drug tests via WADA standards of more than 150 nanograms per milliliter, signifying a positive result.

Premier Lacrosse League

The PLL does not test for cannabis.

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.