The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced today that it will no longer disqualify or penalize fighters who have used marijuana in the days and weeks leading up to a bout–only fighters who smoke the day of a fight. It's going to (attempt to) distinguish between the two groups by raising "the testing threshold for marijuana metabolites from 50 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL."
According to MMAjunkie.com, UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner is behind the decision. Ratner's been arguing since March that the UFC and the Nevada State Athletic Commission need to get with the times:
"Society is changing," Ratner said. "It's a different world now than when I was on the commission. States are legalizing marijuana, and it's becoming more and more of a problem with fighters testing positive (for marijuana) and the metabolites."
"Right now, I just cannot believe that a performance-enhancing drug and marijuana can be treated the same," Ratner said. "It just doesn't make sense to the world anymore, and it's something that I think has to be brought up."
The UFC will be able to enforce new regulations every place its hosts a fight, save Nevada, where the NSAC has the final say. Luckily, the commission may be coming around:
Prior to Ratner's remarks, the NSAC Steroid and Drug Testing Advisory Panel spent 40 minutes discussing its position on marijuana use in the sport. While the committee has yet to develop an official recommendation for the NSAC to consider, preliminary talks seem to indicate the group intends to also suggest raising the commission's testing threshold to 150 ng/mL.
While any new NSAC rule will go into effect way too late to help boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., who was fined $900,000 and suspended for nine months after testing positive for pot, it'll no doubt benefit future fighters. For more on the fight over what ng/ml level constitutes impairment, see Jacob Sullum's recent piece, "Too Stoned to Drive?"