Earlier this offseason, MLB removed marijuana from its list of drugs of abuse as part of changes announced to the joint drug agreement between MLB and the MLBPA. Yet, according to a memo obtained by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, penalties related to marijuana use are still possible.
Per the document cited by ESPN, players and team officials who “appear under the influence of marijuana or any other cannabinoid during any of the Club’s games, practices, workouts, meetings or otherwise during the course and within the scope of their employment” will undergo a “mandatory evaluation” for a potential treatment program and could be subject to potential discipline.
Deputy commissioner Dan Halem also adds in the document that MLB still has the right to punish players who break existing marijuana laws, such as possession and distribution, as well as for driving under the influence.
Passan notes that recreational marijuana use is legal 11 cites in which major league teams play. Medicinal marijuana is legal in 26 of 30 major league locations.
As part of the offseason changes to the joint drug agreement, suspensions for marijuana use were also dropped from the minor league drug program.
The memo also notes that clubs are prohibited from prescribing, dispensing or recommending the use of marijuana or any other cannabinoid. Storing marijuana at team facilities is also not allowed.
MLB’s updated marijuana policy is still among the most progressive in all of major American professional sports. MLB and the MLBPA “are working closely with NSF International to develop an independent testing and certification process for” hemp-based CBD products, per ESPN’s report.
This offseason, MLB announced it will start testing for opioids and cocaine, but that only players who do not cooperate with their treatment plans will be subject to discipline.
Talks to add testing for opioids began following the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1 before the start of a series against Texas. A medical examiner’s office said the 27-year-old died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body.