Report: Schools relax marijuana penalties for student-athletes

Monday December 28th, 2015

More than 20 schools in the Power Five conferences are not disciplining athletes as severely as in the past 10 years for recreational drug and marijuana use, according to an investigation into 56 schools by the Associated Press.

The investigation found that 23 institutions have reduced penalties or even allowed an athlete to test positive on several occasions before facing disciplinary action. Ten of the universities examined have specific guidelines set for marijuana infractions.

The NCAA has tested athletes for marijuana and other street drugs at championship events since the 80s.

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Several schools within the Pac-12 conference has eased their policies. The AP reports Utah previously dismissed athletes after a third positive test for marijuana. A third positive test now results in a half-season suspension.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Washington and Oregon but not allowed by athletes in the Pac-12 conference. A third positive test will result in a one-year suspension at Washington and a loss of playing time at Oregon.

Stanford does not test its athletes for marijuana. Illinois has a policy in place for marijuana which is not as strict as drugs like cocaine or heroin.

The AP did not receive copies of the drug policies at Northwestern, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Southern California, Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest as each school cited privacy laws.

Most universities continue to push for one-year suspensions for athletes that test positive for performance enhancing drugs, much like the case of Florida quarterback Will Greer.

- Christopher Chavez

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