Report: MLB Removing Marijuana from MiLB Banned Substances for New Opioid Policy

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2019

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30:  A bag of baseballs is seen on the field before Game Seven of the 2019 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Tim Warner/Getty Images

Marijuana will reportedly no longer be part of the list of banned substances for minor leaguers.

On Monday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Major League Baseball is removing it from the list as part of a negotiation with the players' union regarding a new agreement on opioids. Rosenthal noted major league players were not subject to testing for marijuana, so this provides more consistency between the two levels.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times added more context to the discussion in October, noting deputy commissioner Dan Halem said the league would "absolutely" like to test for opioids during the 2020 season.

Discussions about loosening marijuana restrictions wouldn't necessarily be seen as a "trade-off" for such tests but would "reflect in part the national trend toward legalization."

According to Shaikin, opioids and marijuana were both classified as "drugs of abuse" under baseball's policy, but major leaguers were only consistently tested for performance-enhancing drugs. However, minor leaguers are tested for "drugs of abuse" and face a suspension on a second positive test.

Shaikin's report noted 13 minor leaguers were suspended for marijuana in 2019, while 80 percent of positive "drugs of abuse" tests were for the drug.

Negotiations involving minor league players have made headlines this offseason, as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred met with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to discuss a proposal that could eliminate 42 minor league teams.

Sanders has publicly criticized the proposal, saying, "This has nothing to do with what's good for baseball and everything to do with greed. It would destroy thousands of jobs and devastate local economies."