Canadian student-athletes will no longer be tested for cannabis

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: MICHAEL CONLEY (GAZETTE)
Cannabis screenings for student athletes are no more.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) will stop screening student-athletes for cannabis in U Sports and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), allowing athletes to test positive during in-competition months without penalty.

The summer’s new policy change, however, does not extend to U Sports and CCAA student-athletes who also compete at the national level during their collegiate career. So student-athletes included in their sport’s National Athlete Pool, competing in a non-U Sports or non-CCAA event or attending an international event where the CCES does not have jurisdiction can still be screened for cannabis.

“The CCES has long advocated for cannabis not to be deemed a prohibited substance,” said Jeremy Luke, the senior director of sport integrity at the CCES. “We didn’t see the performance enhancing benefit associated with [cannabis].”

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With the legalization of marijuana in Canada two years ago, Luke said this was an opportune time to make the decision to stop screening for the drug.

The CCES has not received much feedback from the Canadian athletic community regarding the new policy change — however, Luke said the little response they have received has been positive.

The CCES says they’ll continue to adapt to the changing sports landscape in Canada moving forward. The organization has informed member teams of U Sports and the CCAA about changes to its drug education courses and other resources the CCES offers for student- athletes.

“The mandatory learning program for student athletes has been revised to inform them of this change,” Luke explained, referring to the preseason drug education course that student-athletes must complete before the start of the regular season each year. “We’ve issued advisory notes and some other resources as well so that people are well informed of the change.”

Luke said the CCES will continue to monitor Canadian collegiate sports to see if they will make any further changes.

At the moment, the CCES is not expecting to change the policy for U Sports and CCAA student-athletes who also compete at the national level, as they will continue to be screened for cannabis in-competition.