How Will NHL Respond To Canada’s Legal Marijuana Sales?

The league already has the most progressive policy for major sports.

Photo by Flickr user Gabi L.

Though seven of its teams reside in Canada, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters this week not to expect any rule changes from the NHL in anticipation of legal marijuana sales in Canada starting Oct. 17.

Talking with the Associated Press, Daly said that legalization won’t affect the NHL/NHLPA drug-testing policy. It’s worth reminding that the NHL has the most progressive attitude toward cannabis among the major North American sports leagues. Marijuana is not listed as a banned substance in the NHL.

All players are screened for performance-enhancing drugs each year. But only a third of the league receives testing for illicit drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, or marijuana. Those who test positive for cannabis, however, aren’t publicly identified or disciplined in any way.

If a player is determined to have a dangerously high sample of either a narcotic or cannabis, they could be subject to the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, which may include mandatory substance abuse treatment.

Instead of changing their public stance in any meaningful way, Daly said the league will continue as it has been. The NHL and NHLPA will also try to better educate players about cannabis usage and its legal implications moving forward.

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