The UFC’s anti-doping policy with USADA will no longer punish fighters for positive tests for carboxy-THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky said in a statement to MMA Junkie:
“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 said in a statement. “THC is fat soluble, meaning that once ingested, it is stored in fatty tissues and organs in the body and can be released back into the blood or urine, sometimes long after ingestion. 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.
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. 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.
I would caution everybody to temper their enthusiasm about this because we still have the commission factor here, but we are actively working on that. We are educating, informing, lobbying them, and I hope not too far in the near future that we can get uniformity across all the rules as it relates to marijuana because I think it would certainly be a benefit to the athletes.”
This will be seen as a major improvement for fighters due to the many benefits that some feel by taking THC. Nate Diaz has been infamous for smoking weed and even done so during a public training show before his fight vs. Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244. His brother Nick has also served a suspension for testing positive for cannabis by USADA, and this new ruling will prevent that from happening going forward.