Cannabis Considerations for Student Athletes

Cannabis is on WADA’s Prohibited List and is prohibited in competition only. However, the World Anti-Doping Code allows us to analyze samples for less than the full menu of prohibited substances for certain athletes, who are neither international-level nor national-level athletes.

To this extent, the CCES has developed new protocols for student-athletes. The Canadian Anti-Doping Program (CADP) defines a student-athlete as an individual who is an athlete and student competing in U SPORTS and/or CCAA sport activities and who is not in the National Athlete Pool (NAP) for any sport

Under the new protocol, samples collected from student-athletes who only compete in U SPORTS or CCAA events, will not be analyzed for cannabis (List category S8 Cannabinoids). Accordingly, these athletes will not receive an adverse analytical finding (AAF), or positive test – for cannabis.

We view this as a positive change that reflects a shifting societal view of how to manage cannabis education and harm reduction in Canada.

Take the following e-learning module to better understand how the new cannabis protocol applies to student-athletes in Canada.

What is the CCES's position on cannabis in sport?

The CCES has long advocated for the removal of cannabis from the WADA Prohibited List, and the legalization of cannabis in Canada reflects a shifting societal view of how to manage cannabis education and harm reduction.

Why the change?

Historically, cannabis cases in U SPORTS and CCAA have been unrelated to performance enhancement – rather, they are inadvertent violations caused by the fact that cannabis is only prohibited in-competition and can take 30 days to clear from a human body. As a result, the CCES was motivated to use the flexibility allowed within the Code to develop the new protocol for student-athletes who meet the criteria.

How does the lab know I'm a student-athlete?

The CCES verifies that the sample was collected from a student-athlete without revealing any information about you to the lab. For these tests only, adverse analytical findings – AAFs or positive tests – will not be reported when a sample contains cannabis.

I use cannabis for medical purposes, but I don't have a prescription. Is that a problem?

All medications should be prescribed and monitored by a licensed medical professional. If you use cannabis to manage a medical condition, please do so under medical supervision.

What if I am both in the National Athlete Pool and compete for my school?

The changes to the new cannabis protocol do not apply to you, and cannabis remains prohibited in competition regardless of the host of the competition (e.g. school-based, NSO, IF or other). 

I'm not in a testing pool but I compete at Nationals or other competitions organized by my NSO. What now?

Cannabis is prohibited at events organized by national sport organizations, such as national championships or regional events.

I was selected to represent Canada at a FISU Games or World Championship. What rules apply to me?

Cannabis is prohibited in international competition, and doping control samples collected at those events will be screened for cannabinoids. In addition, it isn't legal to take cannabis when you travel outside of Canada.

My school's Code of Conduct prohibits students from using cannabis. Does that still apply to me?

Yes, if you signed/agreed to a Code of Conduct that prohibits using cannabis, you should adhere to that code. This rule change does not override your school's Code of Conduct.

Contact

If you have more questions about cannabis, please refer to the Cannabis in Sport section of the website, or for additional information about prohibition, medical exemptions, and other substance-related inquiries, email [email protected].