Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters can now toke cannabis (recreational or medical) relatively safely without fear of repercussions from the league, so long as they aren’t doing so directly before a fight.
UFC officials raised the threshold of latent marijuana in the system from 50 nanograms per milliliter of blood to 150 nanongrams last week, announcing the decision to reporters at the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s Steroid and Drug Testing Advisory Panel on Friday.
The move aligns UFC rules with World Anti-Doping Agency rules that were changed back in May to raise acceptable marijuana levels from 15 nanograms to 150 nanograms of inactive THC metabolites.
“When we self-regulate around the world, we are going to go the WADA standard of 150,” Mark Ratner, UFC vice-president of regulatory affairs said. “So we’re starting that immediately.”
The change means that athletes would likely not test at the high threshold unless they are using cannabis immediately before or during a fight. A fighter with low body fat who tokes up the week before a fight likely wouldn’t retain metabolytes near the 150 nanogram mark.
According to Ultimate Fighting-centric blog UFCJunkie.com, the UFC defers to WADA rules in most all situations normally. But when UFC fights occur in countries without an official sanctioning organization, the league self-regulates. UFCJunkie.com points out that at least one fighter in the last few months has faced sanctions specifically from UFC for testing positive for 50 nanograms of marijuana.
Among the most high-profile MMA/marijuana cases unfortunately won’t be affected. Earlier this month UFC Lightweight champion Pat Healey failed a pot test after he toked a month before the fight with friends. Because of the test failure (which we highly doubt was above the newly-allowed 150 nanograms), Healey had to forfeit nearly $130,000 in fight bonuses for his win over Jim Miller.
So, basically he smoked pot a month before his fight, still kicked some major ass and then was penalized for it.
Other UFC-sanctioning bodies – including those in Brazil – are also making the change.