Report: MLB reminds teams it can still punish players for marijuana use

Marijuana was removed from MLB’s banned substance list in December. The league, however, isn’t completely open to its players using the drug. (Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Marijuana may have been removed from Major League Baseball’s banned substances list over the offseason, but that doesn’t mean the league is totally open to its players smoking pot. 

The league sent a memo to teams last week informing players that they still remain subject to potential discipline for using or possessing marijuana, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan

Per the report, deputy commissioner Dan Halem said that MLB still holds the right to punish players who break existing marijuana laws like possession, distribution or driving under the influence.

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Any player or team personnel who “appear under the influence of marijuana or any other cannabinoid during any of the Club’s games, practices, workouts, meetings or otherwise during the course and within the scope of their employment [will undergo a] mandatory evaluation” for a treatment program, the league said in the memo, per ESPN

It also made clear that the league is not advocating for marijuana use, reminding teams that they are “prohibited from prescribing, dispensing or recommending the use of marijuana or any other cannabinoid.”

Marijuana is currently legal recreationally in 11 states and in Washington, D.C., and is legal medically in 33 states. Eleven major league teams are located in cities where marijuana is legal: the five clubs in California, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. Marijuana is also legal recreationally in Canada, which adds the Toronto Blue Jays to that list. According to ESPN, there are more than 60 minor league teams located in states where it is legal recreationally, too. 

MLB officially removed marijuana from its banned substances list in December, a decision that impacted minor leaguers the most. Major league players were not tested for marijuana in the past, however there were strict suspension protocols in place for minor league players who tested positive for the drug. MLB also announced increased testing for opioid use, and that players who tested positive for opioids would be placed in a treatment program instead of being suspended. 

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