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AP report: Schools easing up on marijuana penalties

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An investigation by the Associated Press reveals that one-third of Power Five schools are not punishing athletes testing positive for marijuana as much as they were ten years ago.

The NCAA last year cut in half the penalty for athletes who fail screenings for substances like marijuana at its championship events, and its chief medical officer is pushing for college sports’ governing body to get out of the business of testing for recreational drugs altogether.

The AP analyzed policies for 57 of the 65 schools in the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12, plus Notre Dame.

Since 2005, 23 of the schools analyzed have reduced their penalties, or allowed multiple positive tests for marijuana and other drugs before instituting a suspension or dismissal. Ten more have reduced their penalties for marijuana only.

In the Pac-12 for example, five schools do not suspend athletes for as long as they did in the past. At Utah, for example, a third failed test used to mean dismissal; now it’s a half-season suspension.

“It’s a moving target, and we have to find that balance between being too punitive and not punitive enough, and making sure that we help people that have a problem,” Utah athletic director Chris Hill said.

It seems many schools are conforming with the reality that marijuana isn’t as harmful as the stigma may have people believe. Although like any substance, it is harmful if abused and many schools are implementing procedures aimed at helping rather than punishing, which is more helpful in the long term.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports

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