Major League Baseball hit a home run yesterday.
MLB, in concert with its players association, announced Thursday it has updated its drug policy, with testing for cocaine and opioids beginning in spring training and marijuana no longer on the banned substance list.
And the best part of the change is that failed tests will now be met with treatment plans, rather than just punishment. Players will be punished only if they violate prescribed treatment plans.
It sounds like the most sensible approach to drug testing in all of sports.
Tyler Skaggs, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, died of an opioid overdose last July and there is little doubt that this policy change is at least in part due to the recognition that opioid abuse has become a serious societal problem. Skaggs died with fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system.
“It is our collective hope that this agreement will help raise public awareness on the risks and dangers of opioid medications and contribute positively to a national conversation about this important topic,” said Dan Halem, M.L.B.’s deputy commissioner for baseball administration and chief legal officer, in a statement.
MLB will now test for opioids, cocaine, fentanyl and synthetic THC. It’s been apparent for a few years now that the sports leagues have lost the battle over marijuana, with the substance now legal in many areas of the country and to officially back off on testing for it is the correct move.
This surely will apply pressure to other leagues to implement the same sort of policy, including the elimination of marijuana from the banned-substance list.