It’s Time To Acknowledge The Reality Of THC In Pro Sports

By Benzinga Staff Writer, The Fresh Toast on

Published in Cannabis Daily

The National Basketball Association has 30 teams. Of those, 14 play home games in a state or province with legal recreational marijuana, eight in states with medical marijuana, and eight in states with no legal marijuana — the Bucks, the Hornets, the Mavericks, the Spurs, the Rockets, the Hawks, the Grizzlies, and the Pacers.

The National Hockey League has the greatest exposure to legal cannabis of any league because of the number of teams playing home games in Canada, where cannabis is fully legal. Of the 32 teams in the NHL, 22 play home games in a state or province with legal recreational marijuana, seven in states with medical marijuana, and only three in states with no legal marijuana — the Hurricanes, the Stars, and the Predators.

But here’s the thing: even in the 14 states with no legal marijuana, THC is still legal if it’s derived from hemp. It’s been that way ever since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. As long as the THC comes from the hemp plant with no more than 0.3% THC and is made into products that also do not exceed 0.3% THC, then that THC is legal.

And while 0.3% doesn’t sound like much THC, it’s enough to show up on a drug test, and that threatens the job security of any worker subject to THC drug testing. That’s not right because hemp-derived THC is legal under federal law — even for the players of the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Hawks, which are based in states with no legal marijuana.

No worker in America should face consequences for testing positive for a legal substance used outside of the workplace. And it’s not just professional athletes living under this hypocritical cloud. Millions of Americans, from nurses to truck drivers, are afraid of losing their jobs if they test positive for THC after using legal hemp products.

At Cornbread Hemp, our mission is to improve our customers’ quality of life. And these outdated drug test policies against THC are obstacles to that mission. Consequently, we are doing everything in our power to educate and advocate for ending THC testing in the workplace, beginning with professional sports.

We can no longer lie to ourselves about THC. It’s as commonly used as ibuprofen, maybe more so. Maintaining the fiction that professional sports are THC-free is just an act of denial that we can no longer afford.


It’s long past time for sports leagues to acknowledge that their players use THC in ways that do not affect their workplace performance, instead of demanding that their players remain silent so that the league can continue its drug testing charade. It’s time to end THC drug testing in professional sports.

Jim Higdon is co-founder of Cornbread Hemp. He is a native of Kentucky, and holds degrees from Centre College, Brown University, and Columbia University. Jim published Cornbread Mafia in 2012, which led to a journalism career covering Kentucky for the Washington Post and cannabis policy for POLITICO. 

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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