Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) jointly announced on Thursday significant changes to Drug of Abuse provisions in the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
MLBPA says that the new modifications to the Program continue to favor a treatment-based solution to Drugs of Abuse, emphasizing the protection of players from addictive and potentially lethal substances while providing effective and discreet care to those who need it.
Among the changes to the Program are the removal of cannabis and natural cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, from the list of Drugs of Abuse.
Under the new rules of the Joint Treatment Program For Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, cannabis-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct.
The Program provides for the mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment, and possible discipline by a Players Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct where natural cannabinoids are involved.
All drug screen samples collected through the Program will now be tested for the presence of fentanyl, cocaine, opioids, and synthetic THC.
MLB Deputy Commissioner and Chief Legal Officer Dan Harlem says that the opioid epidemic in the United States is an issue of significant concern to MLB, and hopes that the new agreement—based on principles of prevention, treatment, awareness, and education—will help protect the health and safety of the players.
“I commend the Players Association and its membership for their thoughtful approach to this important issue,” says Harlem. “We also appreciate the support and guidance offered to us by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. It is our collective hope that this agreement will help raise public awareness on the risks and dangers of opioid medication and contribute positively to a national conversation about this important topic.”
All players and Club Personnel will be required to participate in safety and science-based educational programs regarding the dangers of opioid pain medications and sensible approaches to cannabis.
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark says that the Players are overwhelmingly in favor of expanding drug testing to include opioids and want to help lead the way in resolving the national epidemic.
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Jim Carroll says that millions of Americans struggle with substance misuse and need help.
“We applaud the efforts of both Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to prioritize treatment over punishment,” says Carroll. “This historic agreement is an example of how we can all work toward a common goal and save more of our friends, family members, and neighbors from dying of a drug overdose.”
Carroll says that by coming together, MLB and MLBPA have implemented a positive change with the potential to save lives.