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Possible Solution to Marijuana in Combat Sports?

Nick Diaz UFC 183
Nick Diaz during his UFC 183 bout with Anderson Silva

An overwhelming issue that has loomed over mixed martial arts is drug usage and recently with UFC fighter Nick Diaz it has been the drug marijuana. British Columbia litigation lawyer, combat sports law consultant, and MMA Underground contributor Erik Magraken offers a sensible solution to the marijuana issue in combat sports.

“Lost in the discussions of the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s draconian punishment of Nick Diaz and the far from ideal circumstances of his hearing is the fatal flaw in modern day athletic commission testing for marijuana.

Marijuana is, by WADA and by most athletic commission standards, only banned in competition (as opposed to steroids and other performance enhancing drugs which are banned at all times.).

The reason for this is simple. Marijuana, alcohol and other so called ‘drugs of abuse’ are not performance enhancing. In fact, WADA does not even ban alcohol in competition for most sports with the exception of those where harm is perceived to be possible such as air sports, motor sports and archery. Intoxicating substances are only banned in competition in the combat sports world for the safety of the fighter consuming them. No regulator will allow a fighting athlete to compete while impaired and little argument can be made against this objective.

To this end commissions largely rely on metabolite screening in urine tests which do nothing to determine if an athlete is impaired while competing. These tests only show that marijuana was consumed some time in the past. Various jurisdictions set artificial thresholds which, if exceeded, are deemed to be a violation of the in competition ban but these again do not measure sobriety

A far more sensible approach would be to rely on the integrity of pre bout medical screenings. Physicians are present at regulated events. It would take little time and effort for a once over to ensure no competitor is about to fight while showing signs of impairment. If a fighter is not objectively impaired in any way and satisfies physicians present then the regulator’s legitimate safety concerns are meaningfully met. Allowing a bout to take place, on the other hand, and finding traces of substances that could have been consumed days or weeks prior, misses this objective and is a practice which regulators should seriously consider re-evaluating.”

Published courtesy of Combat Sports Law Blog.

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Aaron Portier
Highly passionate MMA Journalist, and I've followed the sport ever since my favorite fighter, Vitor Belfort won the heavyweight tournament at UFC 12. After that I've tried to go to every local MMA event around the Gulf Coast and surrounding areas and decided to make it a point to have a career in some aspect in the fighting sport other than fighting in general (didn't want to ruin my face). I'm currently enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana University working towards a degree in Communication. I cover MMA, Boxing and Football for The Daily Star newspaper in my hometown of Hammond, Louisiana, in addition to working as a promotional writer for a local Boxing promotion known as BoxnCar and I cover boxing for 8countnews.com however SciFighting.com is my home. My main goal is to bring more publicity to MMA in my area and to the sport as a whole as all of us involved with the sport are merely scratching the surface and laying the foundation of what mixed martial arts competition will be further down the road.