SAN DIEGO -- Five months after Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died in a hotel room with two opioids in his bloodstream, Major League Baseball and its players union have agreed on a new drug policy that will add opioid testing for major leaguers and marijuana use will not be punished in the major or minor leagues.
The policy, which would be implemented next season, is expected to be announced Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the policy who requested anonymity.
The new policy is expected to call for treatment, rather than suspension, for players testing positive for opioids. Major league players have not been subject to opioid or marijuana testing, barring reasonable cause or participation in a treatment program.
The policy also would allow major and minor leaguers to use marijuana for pain relief without fear of discipline. Until now, minor league players have been subject to testing for marijuana and could be suspended for repeated use.
Commissioner Rob Manfred did not detail the policy revisions Wednesday in a news conference at the winter meetings, but he did salute union chief Tony Clark for his cooperation as both sides worked toward a long-anticipated agreement to address what Manfred called "a societal problem in terms of opioids" within baseball.
"Hats off to Tony for being forthcoming on the issue," Manfred said. "I think they made an agreement that is realistic in terms of how you handle people with opioid problems, and I think it will be an improvement for the industry going forward."
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