The Nevada state Athletic Commission voted Wednesday to lift its longtime ban on athletes using marijuana, opening the door for boxers and mixed-martial artists competing on the sport’s biggest stage to freely and openly use cannabis.
The commission regulates combat sports in the state, and is thus the regulatory authority that sets the rules for marquee Ultimate Fighting Championship and boxing bouts taking place in Las Vegas, where UFC is headquartered.
For many years, the commission had taken a hard line on cannabis—banning the substance in and out of competition—which in turn jeopardized the careers of fighters who said they used cannabis to help relieve the toils of training and fighting.
Diaz received a five-year ban. He has not fought since. He has, on the other hand, very openly continued to smoke cannabis.
The decision was wildly popular with both UFC officials as well as fighters. (But not nearly as popular as weed, seen as a near-universal tonic among athletes in the sport.)
The commission will continue to test for marijuana for at least the next six months—as part of the commission’s inquiry into head trauma—but won’t punish fighters who use marijuana in training.
Positive cannabis tests are not considered necessarily indicative of intoxication or even recent use. Cannabis metabolites are fat soluble and can stay in the body for many days or weeks after use.
For this reason, UFC in January lifted its own ban on cannabis use in the sport, but without Nevada athletic officials following suit, fighters still had to pass a test.
The NAC’s decision is not retroactive, which means