The role of marijuana as a performance-enhancing drug (PED) has garnered much attention since Pat Healy lost a fortune (and a win) for testing positive after his victory over Jim Miller at UFC 159.
Thiago Silva, a UFC fighter who knows a little something about being disciplined for marijuana consumption, recently spoke to bjpenn.com to add his two cents to the discussion.
The light heavyweight combatant, who is scheduled to welcome Rafael Cavalcante to the Octagon on June 8, provided the following perspective:
You know, it’s very complicated what to say about that. A lot of guys, they like to drink, you know; I don’t drink, I like to smoke. I don’t smoke any more, because I really can’t, but I used to like a lot because it helps me to relax. It’s not like a drug like everybody say[s]. So actually, it’s legal in California, you know. To be honest, I don’t think it’s fair, you know, because it doesn't change your performance.
Silva's sentiments echo those of handfuls of fans and fellow fighters who recently came to Healy's defense. While the legality of marijuana varies from location to location, many feel that its impact on athletic performance is negligible and that testing for it in MMA is arbitrary and pointless.
Counter arguments focus on the safety of the user, citing slowed reflexes and general lethargy as effects of consumption. Other arguments claim that marijuana use dulls pain, granting the user an unfair advantage in a sport where pain is so prevalent.
Many offending parties claim that they consume marijuana weeks before a fight, but since urinalysis does not identify when consumption occurred, all cases must be met with uniform discipline.
The discussion is very much in vogue right now, and Silva is unlikely to be the last fighter to sound off on it, just like Healy is unlikely to be the last fighter busted for usage.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Does testing for marijuana have a place in MMA, or does it lead to pointless discipline for choices fighters make in their personal lives?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section.