This week saw the UFC organization overturn their ban on cannabis which was previously classed as an illegal substance. The news broke after the UFC announced that USADA would be ending their ban on marijuana which previously had a very harsh punishment.
Back in 2015, the UFC infamously banned veteran Nick Diaz for five years after he tested positive for marijuana after his bout with Anderson Silva. Financially, Diaz was also hit at he was forced to pay a fine of $165,000 as well. Whilst the five-year punishment alone seemed incredibly harsh at the time. Further insult to injury was piled on to Diaz as Silva also tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs yet only received a one year ban as a result.
The outcome of the Diaz ban instantly became an iconic moment and made news around the world. Since then, the ban has been notoriously linked with Diaz who continued to promote the use of cannabis use and marijuana culture. Looking past Diaz, the ban is a welcome relief for UFC fighters who enjoy using cannabis from time to time. Under the previous rules, they could not use it around the time of testing, whereas now it is completely legal. This thought process was acknowledged by UFC Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novitzky who stated “When I get those calls weeks out from a fight, fighters that use marijuana say ‘Jeff, when should I stop to make sure I’m under the level?” With this said, it shows that the original ban was always treated with contempt even within the UFC.
Of course, many would argue that the ban in the first place was pretty absurd and dated. The reason for this is that cannabis literally does not enhance a fighter’s performance and in many cases would actually do the opposite. Due to its calming effects, it wouldn’t really be used to make someone fight better other than calming nerves. Nonetheless, when compared to most steroids, marijuana is incredibly tame in comparison.
Since the announcement, the UFC has also added that they still expect fighters to avoid cannabis use on the day of their fight. According to the UFC, their should be no ‘no signs of visible impairment’ on the date of the fight which effectively means that whilst marijuana is no longer banned, fighter’s where also expected to fight whilst completely sober.