MLB to test for opioids, won't punish marijuana use in 2020
The Washington Post / Getty

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to a new drug policy that will test for opioids and won't punish players for marijuana use, the league announced Thursday.

The agreement will be implemented for the 2020 season.

Under the new policy, players who test positive for opioids will be evaluated and, if deemed necessary, will receive treatment instead of being suspended, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in early December that treatment, as opposed to discipline, is the best approach.

Marijuana and other natural cannabinoids will no longer be considered drugs of abuse, and the league will treat marijuana-related conduct the way it treats alcohol-related conduct. Both major and minor leaguers will apparently be allowed to use marijuana for pain relief. It was previously reported that cannabis would only be removed from the list of banned substances in the minors.

League commissioner Rob Manfred didn't reveal the details of the new agreement when he spoke Wednesday at the winter meetings in San Diego. However, he praised Clark and the union for working hard to shed light on the subject of opioid abuse.

"Hats off to Tony for being forthcoming on the issue," Manfred said. "I think they made an agreement that is realistic in terms of how you handle people with opioid problems, and I think it will be an improvement for the industry."

Prior to the revisions, major leaguers weren't subjected to regular testing for opioids and marijuana, while minor leaguers faced bans for a second cannabis violation.

The issue of opioid abuse in baseball came under scrutiny after Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died from an overdose in July.

MLB to test for opioids, won't punish marijuana use in 2020
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