Cannabis progress continues in Florida with professional MMA fighters, the newest beneficiaries of the state’s rapidly changing views on medical marijuana and CBD.
According to reports from journalist Steven Marrocco of MMAJunkie, the UFC’s Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky told him The Florida State Boxing Commission will change its zero-tolerance policy around cannabinoids. Currently, fighters face suspension and fine for any trace of THC, CBD, or any other cannabinoids in their system.
Novitzky noted the move would happen before UFC on ESPN 3 which takes place on April 27.
Instead of the current limit of zero, fighters would be allowed up to 150 mg/nL of cannabinoids in their system before it would raise alarm. That number is in line with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s threshold for in-competition use. When the UFC acts as its own commission in places without one, they already go by those WADA guidelines.
This all comes following last week when Titan FC flyweight champion Juan Puerta was pulled by the commission just before walking out to defend his title. Puerta told MMAFighting.com he ate CBD gummies on the Monday evening before the fight. He is under the impression they must have had THC in them and when he was tested an hour before the fight it all went south quick. But it looks like Puerta may very well be the last person to fall victim to the zero-tolerance policy. Also, Puerta argued he wasn’t taking performance-enhancing drugs, he just gets a little anxiety before he gets in a cage with someone that is hoping to remove him from his consciousness.
Last Friday’s actions set in set in motion a chain of events that saw Novitzky getting in touch with the commission about what happened to Puerta. MMAFighting reported there was concern among UFC fighters and staff about the impact Florida’s policy around cannabis could have on the upcoming Ft. Lauderdale card. According to Novitzky, the decision was made this week after the UFC VP of Regulatory affairs talked with the commission about the situation.
But the commission is pushing back on the reports. Spokesman Patrick Fargason said the discussion around Florida’s ruled around cannabis and MMA will take place on April 4. Any decision will come out of that meeting.
Nevertheless, Novitzky sounded pretty confident. And his pedigree when it comes to drug testing policy is top class. He has led some of the most famous steroids investigations in the history of sports including the BALCO scandal that included names like Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, and Jason Giambi. He also led the investigation into Lance Armstrong. Novitzky was brought in to implement the UFC’s new drug testing program with the United States Anti-Doping Association.
MMA and cannabis have an exceptionally polarized history, but one might argue it’s trended positively with the national conversation. Many MMA fighters are now getting involved in the industry. We previously featured for former UFC Middleweight Chris Camozzi getting into the CBD trade, and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson retired at the top of the light heavyweight division after a failed title challenge to try and get into the cannabis industry.
The fighter with the most famed relationship with cannabis is Nick Diaz. It all started in 2007 when Diaz hit one of the most famous submissions in history on Takanori Gomi winning via gogoplata. Not long after Japanese officials would overturn the decision announcing Diaz had tested positive for marijuana.
In 2015, Diaz would again face regulatory wrath over THC in his system. Despite his opponent Anderson Silva testing positive for steroids in the fight that became a no contest, Diaz got the worst of it receiving a 5-year ban for his history with pot. It would later be negotiated down to 18 months, but Diaz hasn’t fought since. In the time he has been gone, Diaz’s younger brother Nate put on two of the biggest PPVs in UFC history choking out Conor McGregor once and losing a wild decision in the rematch.
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