Florida Removes Cannabis As Banned Substance in Combat Sports

Update May 5, 2021 – I contacted Jeff Novitzky who confirms he shared data on marijuana impaired driving with Florida regulators that was previously used in congressional hearings. The data includes useful information on how divorced blood and urine testing for cannabis is from documenting actual impairment. Data, including the below excerpts, proved persuasive in having Florida remove cannabis as a substance they will test for.

While ethyl alcohol is readily soluble in water, and hence blood, THC is fat soluble. This means that once ingested, THC is stored in fatty tissues in the body and can be released back into the blood sometimes long after ingestion. Some studies have detected THC in the blood at 30 days post ingestion (Heustis, 2007). Thus, while THC can be detected in the blood long after ingestion, the acute psychoactive effects of marijuana ingestion last for mere hours, not days or weeks. Also, unlike alcohol, which is metabolized at a steady rate, the metabolism of THC occurs in a different fashion such that THC blood levels decline exponentially. Some studies have reported a fairly wide variability that is affected by the means of ingestion (smoking, oil, and edibles), potency, and user characteristics. Most research on the effects of marijuana has used smoking and often do not measure the concentration of THC in the blood.

The drug testing methodology for urinalysis is well established. Drugs and drug metabolites are detectable in urine for several days after the drug has been used (and sometimes for weeks). Urine test results cannot be used to prove that a driver was under the influence of the drug at the time of arrest or testing. Detection of THC or other cannabinoids in urine does not necessarily reflect recent use.


According to the UFC’s Jeff Novitzky regulators in Florida have just removed cannabis as a banned substance in combat sports.

Impairment, not past consumption of cannabis which can take many weeks to fully clear the body in heavy users, is always the legitimate concern of athletic commissions. Many regulators are accepting this reality and moving in the right direction.

Many commissions and anti doping regulators have been taking progressive steps with how cannabis is treated from California giving those who test positive a slap on the wrist to WADA treating it as a substance of abuse with lighter punishment than true Performance Enhancing Drugs to BC providing Therapeutic Use Exemptions to medical users. An outright removal of the substance is the biggest reform yet.

Some other recent developments for cannabis in combat sports documented here:

Part 1 – Marijuana’s treatment under the WADA Prohibited List

ABC Recommends Lighter Cannabis Sanctions

WADA Creates “Substances of Abuse” Category For Anti Doping

MMA Returned to Canada With Historic Cannabis TUE in Place

A Simple Fix For Combat Sports and Cannabis

Elias Theodorou Granted First Ever MMA Cannabis Therapeutic Use Exemption

“Substances of Abuse” Modified Under UFC/USADA In Competition Ban

I will update this article as more details come to light.

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