Former Congressman Kennedy: NCAA Decision to Allow Marijuana Drug Use Would Do Irreconcilable Harm to Student-Athletes, Athletic Competition

Former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, Medical Professionals, Leading Scientists Urge NCAA President Charlie Baker To Recognize Scientific and Medical Data Detailing the Risks Associated with Today’s THC Drugs

As Governor of Massachusetts, Baker Recognized the Dangers of THC Drug Use

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, Honorary Chair of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), today released the following statement urging NCAA President Charlie Baker to reject the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports’ (CSMAS) recommendation that the college athletics’ governing body remove marijuana from its testing regiment and its list of banned substances.  

“Former Governor Charlie Baker exercised leadership when addressing the real physical and mental health consequences of marijuana and THC drugs when he was Governor of Massachusetts. He and I had many productive conversations about this topic while working together on the President’s Commission. I know former Governor Baker understands the magnitudes of harm that will befall the NCAA’s athletes if they should remove testing for marijuana from their competitive guidelines,” said former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy. 

“Today’s THC drug products aren’t the marijuana of years ago. They are engineered to maximize potency and hook a new generation of high-frequency users to make huge profits for an industry that relies on addiction to succeed,” Kennedy added.

NCAA President Baker and former Congressman Kennedy previously worked together in 2017 as part of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. That Commission’s report stated that “Recent research out of the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse found that marijuana use led to a 2 ½ times greater chance that the marijuana user would become an opioid user and abuser. The Commission found this very disturbing.” Thus, the “Commission urge[d] that the same mistake is not made with the uninformed rush to put another drug legally on the market in the midst of an overdose epidemic.”

Since that time, a growing body of medical data has linked marijuana use with addiction, IQ loss, depression, suicidality, psychosis and schizophrenia. The Congressman’s comments came as SAM’s Science Advisory Board, comprised of the nation’s foremost medical and scientific experts on marijuana, authored a letter to the NCAA President highlighting how the CSMAS proposal is inconsistent with a recent review of marijuana policy by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which kept marijuana among its banned substances for international sports competitions.  

In their letter, the medical professionals stated, “marijuana poses health risks to those who use it, these risks are amplified in college students. A 2017 report by the National Academy of Sciences reviewed more than 10,000 peer-reviewed academic articles and concluded that marijuana use is connected to a number of problems, including: respiratory problems; mental health issues (like psychosis, social anxiety, and thoughts of suicide); increased risk of car accidents; progression to and dependence on tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs; learning, memory, and attention loss (possibly permanent in some cases); and low birth weight.”

The letter further notes that a “study in Lancet found that daily users of high-potency marijuana…are nearly five times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder.” It goes on to note that “the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration warned that ‘Approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. When they start before age 18, the rate of addiction rises to 1 in 6.’”

A copy of the letter sent to NCAA President Baker by SAM’s Advisory Board can be found HERE.