NCAA Committee Recommends Removal of Cannabis from Banned Substances List

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An NCAA committee has made a formal recommendation to remove cannabis from their banned substances list for college athletes.

In a recent press statement (1), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) formally announced their recommendation that cannabis should be removed from the organization’s banned substances list for college athletes. The committee also stated (10 that all three of the organization’s governing bodies should “introduce and adopt legislation that would remove cannabinoids from the list of NCAA banned drug classes.”

This recommendation reportedly comes after an extensive study informed by industry and subject matter experts. In December 2022, the NCAA also hosted a Summit on Cannabinoids in College Athletics (2). The consensus opinion formed at that event was that cannabis was not a performance-enhancing drug and that a harm-reduction approach to cannabis would be best implemented at the school level.


The NCAA statement reads (1): “In short, removing cannabinoids from the list of banned substances:

  • Acknowledges the ineffectiveness of existing policy (banning, testing and penalizing).
  • Affirms the role of the NCAA drug-testing program to address only performance-enhancing substances.
  • Emphasizes the importance of moving toward a harm-reduction strategy that prioritizes education and support at the school level over penalties.”

"When making a decision on an important topic like this, we agree that the membership should have an opportunity to vote on the final outcome," said James Houle, committee chair and lead sport psychologist at Ohio State (1). "We are recommending a big shift in the paradigm when it comes to cannabinoids. We want to modernize the strategy with the most up-to-date research to give schools the best opportunity to support the health of student-athletes."

The exact timing of discussion and adoption of possible legislation is a decision that will be made by each of three NCAA divisional governance structures (1).


  1. Johnson, G. CSMAS recommends divisions remove cannabinoids from NCAA banned drug classes,
  2. Radford, C. Summit addresses impact of cannabinoids on student-athlete health, safety and performance,,,penalty%20structure%20for%20positive%20tests.