A little over five years ago, the Nevada Athletic Commission memorably and controversially handed Nick Diaz a five-year (later reduced to 18-month) suspension for his third positive marijuana test.
Fast forward to 2021 and the commission is done sanctioning athletes for marijuana, having previously enforced bans and fines for in-competition cannabis levels above 150 nanograms per milliliter. NAC made the changes official at Wednesday’s hearing.
“We should always be at the forefront of these issues,” NSAC chairman Stephen J. Cloobeck said (via ESPN). “I believe it’s warranted and merited since it is legal in this state. ... I think we need to jump forward, being the leader as we’ve always been.”
Earlier this year, UFC anti-doping partner USADA announced it wouldn’t sanction fighters for recreational drug use unless they were visibly under the influence on fight night itself. Florida’s commission also struck marijuana from the prohibited shortly after UFC 261, and California eliminated overturning fight results for marijuana.
How about that! NSAC no longer sanctioning for marijuana,” UFC senior VP of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky wrote on Twitter. “Crazy that in my tenure with UFC I’ve seen NSAC try to suspend Nick Diaz for life for marijuana, to this. Big credit to Exec Director Bob Bennett for spearheading this change. Just don’t show up to fight impaired!”
The bad news for any recent offenders is that the new rule will not be retroactively enforced. So on the same day that Nevada announced no more marijuana punishment for fighters moving forward, the commission did suspend UFC women’s flyweight Gillian Robertson 4 1⁄2 months and Misha Cirkunov six months for their respective infractions of now-defunct rules. They both lost their last respective fights so those results remain upheld.