Marijuana is Not a Performance-Enhancing Drug, It’s Simply Illegal

Written by Tom Ngo
February 14th, 2012

UFC Nick Diaz Strikeforce

Nearly a week has passed since Nick Diaz (Pictured) flunked his UFC 143 drug test. Since that time, countless supporters have come to Diaz’s defense claiming marijuana is not a performance-enhancing substance and they are baffled the Nevada State Athletic Commission screens for it to begin with.

I’m not here to argue whether smoking weed makes a fighter quicker, faster, stronger or enables them to accomplish feats they normally wouldn’t be able to without it. Marijuana doesn’t do any of that. In actuality, puffing ganja probably adversely affects professional athletes from a performance perspective.

I understand Diaz has a medical marijuana license in the state of California – which was likely obtained through a sketchy “physician,” similarly to the dozens scattered across Venice Beach distributing them like candy for $50 – but marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Just in case you didn’t know, federal laws trump state laws and that’s why marijuana dispensaries are being shut down throughout the Golden State.

Believe me, I am as liberal as they come on most subjects, including hemp. However, I’m not a professional athlete that is paid far more than the everyday working man to abide by the most simplistic of rules. It’s not a coincidence the NBA, NFL, MLB and every other multibillion-dollar sports association also bans marijuana.

The ‘But it’s only pot’ argument is utter nonsense. Would your thoughts on Diaz’s sticky icky predicament have been different had he tested positive for cocaine, heroin, LSD or meth? These are also illegal recreational drugs that aren’t performance-enhancers.

To say one drug is forgivable while another is not brings a person’s moral character into play. Thankfully, we can reach a conclusion without having to go there. Illegal is illegal, and that’s why Diaz is facing a year-long suspension and could be docked up to 40% of his $200,000 show purse.

To help simplify things, perhaps athletic commissions should specifically outline which drugs are prohibited prior to issuing licenses to fighters. Wait up, they already do?

Don’t forget to follow @5thRound on Twitter, Facebook and Google+!