I'll Get You CSAC, and Your Little Pre-Fight Testing, Too

Ryan BarnhartContributor IAugust 11, 2009

STUDIO CITY, CA - MAY 19:  MMA fighters Jake Shields (bottom) and Nick Diaz demonstrate MMA fighting techniques at CBS's 'Elite XC Saturday Night Fights' Press Conference at CBS Radford Studios on May 19, 2008 in Studio City, California.  (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)

As the rumor mill circulates more and more about the cancellation of the Nick Diaz/Jay Hieron title scrap at “Carano vs. Cyborg” this Saturday in San Jose many fans and critics of the sport alike are more than upset with why the fight has been changed to a not-very-relevant Hieron/Jesse Taylor of TUF infamy. 

For those of you that don’t know, Nick Diaz was unable, for whatever reasons, to take a pre-fight drug screening (not for steroids though).  Yes, Nick was going to be screened for trace metabolites of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. 

Mind you, Nick Diaz didn’t fail a test.  He just wasn’t able to take, or make it to a pre-fight test (and you can imagine the kind of hectic scheduling one must have when you are six days away from one of the biggest fights in your career).

Nick, the author, and 96,999,998 other Americans make an adult decision to use recreationally, medicinally, and responsibly, the substance known as marijuana. 

In the state of California there is a Compassionate Use Act, decriminalizing the use and possession of reasonable amounts of marijuana. Thirteen other states have taken the example set by the state of California. 

Yet the Athletic Commission of the state, other states and international sport governance agencies still mandate that marijuana is a performance enhancing substance.  It is time for athletic commissions the world over to grow up.

Can marijuana really enhance performance?  I think not.  It does not behoove an athlete to imbibe cannabis before a competition.  Medical science proves reaction time, coordination, etc. does drop somewhat under the influence of cannabis.

And in most sports (pretty much them all) you need those skills to be successful, thus earning a payday and making a living.  So, by definition, that means that marijuana really does not enhance performance. 

What the CSAC and other athletic governing agencies fail to realize is that as a recovery aid, marijuana serves and could serve a greater purpose. 

Instead of allowing fighters (Karo Parisyan) and other athletes (too many to name) to become addicted to painkillers, athletic commissions should encourage the responsible use of marijuana as a tool and a non-addictive medicinal aid to the aches, pains, bumps, and bruises that these athletes endure on a daily basis. 

The question that also arises is why should athletic commissions involve themselves in the personal lives of those that they license?  It is a person’s inherent and natural born right (so says Thomas Jefferson) to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

If that means a fighter who gives his all every time he steps in a ring or cage, and by doing so makes the very same athletic commission that frowns upon his personal choices thousands and thousands (if not millions) in tax revenue (and the last time I looked California, you aren’t doing so hot in the bank account), the state should bite their tongue. 

You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

It’s time that the CSAC, NSAC, US Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, and everyone else including professional sport leagues remove marijuana from the list of banned substances.

It is not a performance enhancing drug.  It never was.

It’s not harmful to the health of the fighters.  Hell, it might even help them to extend their careers, thereby having the means to make more earnings AND increase tax and other revenues for the very same agencies that persecute it. 

Hang in there Nick.  You are an outspoken and exciting fighter, athlete, and warrior.  You should not be punished for the foolishness of the establishment.  The bread on your table should not be taken away because you choose to make a responsible adult decision.