A bipartisan congressional bill intended to aid student athletes to monetize their success contains a stipulation that would allow colleges and intercollegiate organizations such as the NCAA to block those athletes from sponsorship agreements with the cannabis industry. Although the legislation seeks to address the controversy over the inequitable process for compensation for student athletes, it would appear that cannabis businesses won’t be involved in the proposed reform.
Drug policy reform advocates have expressed their disappointment about the legislation’s proposed anti-cannabis policies. Despite growing state-level legalization movements across the U.S, concerns over collegiate athletes promoting the use of medical and recreational cannabis remain pertinent.
Co-interim executive director of Students for Sensible drug policy Luis Montoya told Marijuana Moment that students athletes should reserve the right to professionally earn funding from any legal service they deem fit.
They also argued that the bill is not rooted in science, and ignores social justice reinvestment measures put forth by the cannabis industry. The bill, which also prohibits athletes to get endorsements from alcohol, tobacco, adult entertainment, and gambling companies, appears to categorize cannabis not as a form of medicine, but rather as an illicit substance.
Proponents of marijuana-related sponsorships for NCAA athletes argue that those who have been most negatively affected by the war on drugs, particularly athletes of color, are once again being locked out from the benefits of the booming cannabis industry, which has been particularly active in fostering racial equity.
While it comes with little surprise that collegiate institutions are unwilling to allow students to advocate for marijuana-related products, industry advocates hope that with increased education and awareness, student athletes will one day get to reap the potential benefits of partnering with cannabis businesses for sponsorships.
Earlier this year, Major League Baseball clarified that players can consume cannabis without being disciplined, but moved to ban them from entering sponsorship deals with marijuana businesses.