This week the cannabis community experienced one of the biggest highs and one of the biggest lows in recent months. On Monday California launched adult-use cannabis sales via dozens of dispensaries spread across the state. By all accounts, the rollout of adult-use sales was a success in California, with no issues being reported.
But unfortunately, the celebration was short-lived, as later in the week United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would be rescinding an Obama-era policy that had provided protection for states that had legalized cannabis. The announcement sent shockwaves throughout the cannabis industry and activism movement, with many advocates wondering if it would lead to a crackdown by the federal government.
As it stands right now, the rescinding of the policy (known as the Cole memo) has not resulted in any changes in enforcement of federal cannabis prohibition. That may change in the future, but for now, things are the same as they were before the announcement in regards to federal interference in legal cannabis states. Again, that could change in the future, but the Uncle Cliffy team hopes that proves not to be the case.
Resistance to the announcement was very swift. Members of Congress, state and local lawmakers, and cannabis activists across the country made it very clear that not only do they oppose the decision by Jeff Sessions but also that they would relentlessly fight any federal enforcement in legal states. What does the announcement specifically mean for the sports cannabis movement? Will the sports cannabis movement be harmed by the change in policy? Should professional athletes be worried that they could become targets of federal enforcement?
League officials have regularly cited federal prohibition as justification for continued cannabis prohibition in professional sports. The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) specifically cited Jeff Sessions’ opposition to cannabis as to why they would not support any changes to NBA league policy at this time. That stance was expressed prior to the recent announcement by Jeff Sessions, so it’s likely safe to assume that the NBPA will continue to support the status quo of testing players for cannabis use, and suspending them when they are found to have THC metabolites in their system.
As the Uncle Cliffy team has pointed out in the past, no player in the history of professional sports has ever been arrested by the federal government for a failed drug test due to cannabis use. It is absurd for anyone to suggest that professional athletes should be tested for cannabis use because of fears related to federal cannabis prohibition. It is extremely illogical to think that because an athlete has THC metabolites in their system that they will become the target of federal cannabis enforcement.
Professional athletes should not be scared by the recent announcement by Jeff Sessions, just as they shouldn’t have been scared by past anti-cannabis comments made by Jeff Sessions and other members of the Trump administration. Cannabis prohibition is just as harmful to society and professional athletes today as it was prior to Jeff Sessions’ announcement, and therefore the effort to free the plant MUST continue.
The sports cannabis movement should not only be unswayed by Jeff Sessions’ recent announcement, it should push forward with more passion now than ever before. Professional athletes need to continue to speak out in support of cannabis reform in sports and society and continue to refuse to stand by as people have their careers and lives ruined due to consuming a plant that has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol. Onward!