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Volume 25 No. 152
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How Will Canada's Legalization Of Recreational Marijuana Affect NHL?

Canada tomorrow will become the "largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana," but the NHL and NHLPA are planning "no changes to their joint drug-testing policy" as a result, according to Stephen Whyno of the AP. Under the current policy, players are "not punished for positive marijuana tests," which is the "most lenient approach to cannabis" by any major North American league. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said of the league's current policy, "Based on the education level and what we do test for and how we test, at least for the time being, we're comfortable with where we are." Whyno noted while the NFL and NBA can "suspend and MLB can fine players for multiple marijuana infractions, only a significantly high amount of the drug found in NHL/NHLPA testing triggers a referral to behavioral health program doctors" (AP, 10/15). SPORTSNET.ca's Chris Johnston noted Canada's legalization of marijuana will not have a "fundamental impact on the NHL until or unless every U.S. state eventually follows suit." No NHL team physician will be "able to prescribe cannabis products for pain relief" without players "frequently crossing borders into regions where it's still prohibited," which would be illegal (SPORTSNET.ca, 10/14).

UNKNOWN TERRITORY: In Winnipeg, Jeff Hamilton noted the CFL "doesn't currently test for cannabis and, as recent history suggests, nor does it seem to care all that much when its players are arrested with the drug." Hamilton: "Given the CFL’s lax cannabis rules what, if anything then, is expected to change for the league once legalization sets in? The answer is, not much." A CFL spokesperson said the league is "working to assess the potential impact of the legalization of marijuana." The spokesperson said, "This is uncharted territory, of course, but at this point it appears the effect on the CFL will be minimal" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 10/13).