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NCAA Won’t Alter Marijuana Rule After States Decriminalize Use

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Mark Emmert, the president of college sports’ governing body, said he doesn’t expect schools to change rules on drug use even after Washington and Colorado voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana in those states.

Washington will allow those at least 21 years old to buy as much as one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana from a licensed retailer. Colorado’s law allows possession of an ounce, and permits growing as many as six plants in private, secure areas. Oregon voters rejected a similar measure.

Emmert said yesterday in an interview at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce that the National Collegiate Athletic Association hadn’t considered relaxing its rules listing marijuana as a prohibited substance.

“There hasn’t been any discussion to that effect, and I would be surprised if there is an interest in doing that,” he said. “Our policies are our policies now and I would be surprised if they change,”

NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in an e-mail that the state legalization “does not impact the NCAA drug-testing rules because the ban and testing policies are not tied to whether a substance is legal for general population use, but rather whether the substance is considered a threat to student-athletes’ health and safety or the integrity of the game.”

Marijuana use, which is still a violation of federal law, is allowed for medicinal purposes in a third of U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Washington and Colorado are the first two states to decriminalize its use.

“The Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado, said in a statement. “We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time.”

-- With assistance from Curtis Eichelberger in Washington. Editors: Rob Gloster, Larry Siddons.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net.; Alison Vekshin in San Francisco at avekshin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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