Major League Baseball is reportedly planning to remove marijuana from its prohibited substance list for all minor league players.

The league has already stopped testing players on each team’s 40-man roster, but the minor leaguers that do not make the roster are routinely tested. There have been 13 suspensions for cannabis use among minor league players in 2019.

Under the current regulations, they are suspended for 25 games for the first positive test and 50 games for a second positive test. A third means a 100-game suspension and a fourth results in a lifetime ban.

However, Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic claims that will all end soon. “As part of a new agreement on opioids being negotiated between Major League Baseball and the players’ union, MLB will remove marijuana from the list of banned substances for minor leaguers,” said Rosenthal.

The league has had to overcome a major challenge when it comes to tackling steroid abuse, but it has taken a more relaxed approach to marijuana. It is by no means a performance enhancing drug, but many players say it can relieve pain and anxiety without the harmful side-effects that many traditional painkillers produce.

The NHL also has a tolerant attitude towards cannabis. It is not on the league’s list of banned substances and players that test positive do not automatically receive fines or suspensions, and action is only taken if they are deemed to need substance abuse treatment.

Yet the NFL still continues to take a strong anti-marijuana stance, despite pleas for reform from a growing cohort of former players. The NBA has also been urged to relax its stance, but Commissioner Adam Silver said he wants more research to become available before repealing the ban.

There are 123 teams competing in the MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL, and 45 play in states or provinces where recreational cannabis is legal. A further 56 play in states where medical marijuana is legal, meaning 82% of players are based in areas that allow some form of cannabis use.

The only states that have pro sports teams and no legal marijuana are Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, but that list could shrink soon, as draft legislation is underway in some of those states.

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