Canada’s full marijuana legalization won’t change NHL’s policy

What is the NHL’s position on cannabis? Despite the change of law in Canada, athletes living and playing here will still have to adhere to individual league rules and codes of conduct.


Cannabis is now legal in Canada, but nothing in the sport itself is changing, league officials note. Even so, the league and the NHL Players’ Association are taking steps to educate the players on what they need to know.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have no intention to change their joint drug-testing policy as Canada is poised to become the largest country to legalize cannabis on Wednesday, the AP reports.

The league’s anti-doping program is focused on catching and disciplining players who are using performance-enhancing drugs, but they also test, anonymously, for “drugs of abuse,” like cannabis or harder drugs.

The NHL takes the most laissez-faire approach to cannabis use. It tests for marijuana — but a positive test by itself does not lead to a suspension.

 Given the prevalence of marijuana use among the non-NHL population of Canada, it’s difficult to imagine there aren’t players toking up from time to time.

If a test returns levels that are of concern for the player or another person’s health and safety, a referral is made to the joint NHL-NHLPA substance abuse and behavioral health program for evaluation.