Two things that have never mixed well in the world of sports are drugs and athletes.
No matter the industry in or what type of sports you compete in, there are pretty strict rules about the use of drugs including marijuana, and the same goes for the MMA.
Marijuana use might not be considered one of the more dangerous ways an athlete can ingest drugs, but that doesn’t always mean it’s allowed.
Even if the drug is now legal or decriminalized in many parts of the world, there are still strict rules regarding its use when it comes to this combat sport.
So, is weed legal in MMA?
According to the UFC’s Anti Doping Program, the use of cannabis, marijuana, and hashish are prohibited, however, the use of CBD is allowed in some cases.
To be able to compete professionally, fighters will need to pass a drug screening test that can easily pick up on traces of THC and other particles that are illegal if they’re in a fighter’s system.
With all of the focus on Joe Rogan and his weed use recently, it helps to dive deeper into the link between marijuana and mixed martial arts.
What’s allowed, what’s not, and what are the implications of using something like marijuana, even if it’s legal in some states? We’re going to explore all of these questions and more to come to a conclusive decision on weed and MMA.
The Rising Popularity and Legality of Weed
There’s no denying that weed is having its moment in the spotlight, with everyone from politicians to sports stars talking about its use.
The legal issues surrounding marijuana and the recent decriminalization and legalization of it has been a particularly pressing issue, and many wonder whether this will impact the allowances made for MMA stars.
Although marijuana has been made legal in many parts of the world, it’s still not seen as an allowed substance by most sporting bodies.
The UFC’s Anti Doping Program prohibits the use of cannabinoids including marijuana, cannabis, hashish, and synthetic cannabinoids as well.
Although the presence of THC in an athlete’s body will lead to disqualification and first-time offenders can be suspended from competing for a year, CBD is now recognized by many MMA organizations as an allowed substance.
Due to what we now know about CBD and its therapeutic benefits rather than altering the mind frame of the user, many anti-doping bodies are following suit.
Can Marijuana Enhance Performance?
The debate about whether or not marijuana enhances performance for an MMA athlete has occurred for many years.
Most recently, Joe Rogan discussed the issue on his MMA podcast and wanted to dispel the myth about marijuana making people sluggish, slow to respond, and with decreased reflexes.
Rogan pointed out the difference in two of the major strains of weed, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis sativa, with Sativa being better at producing large boosts of energy and pain relief.
If this is the case, then marijuana would rightly be classed as a performance-enhancing drug and should continue to be a prohibited substance.
Drug Testing and MMA
Professional MMA organizations like the UFC have stringent drug testing in place to ensure the equality and safety of all fighters.
Fighters like Conor McGregor have famously commented in the past about the fairness of these drug tests, as they are often administered by local agencies acting on behalf of the USADA, so there can be issues with a desire for national loyalty skewing results.
USADA, the anti-doping program of the UFC, will consider the use of medical marijuana in some cases, according to their website and this will result in a Therapeutic Use Exemption so they can be cleared during testing.
However, even though the product has been decriminalized in many states, it’s still a federal offense, and so their blanket rule is that no fighter is to have traces of THC in their system.
According to the USADA, fighters should be aware that THC can stay stored in the body’s fat tissues for long periods of time, and even a small amount of weight loss can release old traces.
Therefore, athletes should avoid drug use completely while they’re still competing at a professional level.
The issue of drug use for mixed martial artists can lead to serious consequences when they’re involved in a professional competition, and lead to disqualification.
There are some other things potential athletes should be aware of with MMA, and we’ve answered a few FAQs to give you the inside scoop.
Do MMA Fighters Smoke Cigarettes?
Mixed martial artists need a good level of physical fitness to compete, but that doesn’t mean smoking cigarettes is banned in the sport.
Although the use of tobacco products like cigarettes has decreased in recent years, it’s still common to see pictures of MMA competitors caught smoking, to the detriment of their health.
How Often Are UFC Fighters Drug Tested?
The governing body in charge of drug testing, the USADA, performs random drug tests on athletes that are currently competing in the UFC or are in contests in the near future.
There is no set schedule as to when these tests will be performed or how many, which is similar to the methods used in other competitive sports.
Has Anyone Ever Died From MMA?
Although it is hard to get a definite number of fatalities due to the number of unregulated contests, there have been seven recorded deaths that occurred during sanction competitions of MMA, as of 2019.
There are serious risks involved with combat sports like MMA and the potential for fatalities still exists, with some believing it is more dangerous than boxing.