The list of substances banned by Major League Baseball is a long and complicated one spanning from illegal drugs to over the counter products designed to aid an athlete to enhance their performance.
But beginning with the 2020 MLB season, there will be one less substance on the banned list – cannabis.
MLB has a strict no-drug policy that will see a player banned from play for 50 games upon the first offense and increases substantially for the second offense and a banishment from the game for the third offense.
In the new season player drug tests will include testing for opioids, fentanyl, cocaine, and synthetic THC; but any player who tests positive for natural cannabinoids will not be punished under the banned substance policy.
Players who test positive for natural cannabinoids will treated the same as a player with alcohol related issues.
MLB deputy chief Dan Halem noted that, “the USA opioid epidemic is a concern,” and in future any player who tests positive for legally obtainable narcotics will be referred for treatment over punishment.
Halem said that the new policy is designed to raise public awareness and to focus on the, “principles of prevention, treatment, awareness and education – will help protect the health and safety of our players.”
While cannabis has been decriminalized in many states and is even legal in a few, opioid addiction has reached the level of a national crisis.
The change comes in the wake of the death of Tyler Skaggs – a 27 year old pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels – who was found dead in his Texas hotel room July 1, 2019. It was determined that Skaggs had oxycodone, fentanyl and alcohol in his system at the time of his death.
The new drug policy applies to all MLB players – both Major and Minor Leagues.