Photo Credit: Chris Chambers/Getty

Rutgers instituted a new drug policy this year that includes reduced penalties for athletes who test positive for marijuana, according to New Jersey Advance Media.

The policy makes a clear distinction between marijuana and hard drugs or performance-enhancing substances, unlike the university’s old policy, which treated all of the above banned substances under the same rules. Now, an athlete who tests positive for marijuana once will not be suspended, whereas he or she could have been suspended for up to two weeks under the old policy. If an athlete tests positive twice, he or she can now be suspended for “0 to 10 percent of the current or upcoming season,” at the discretion of the athletics director—versus a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of the coach’s choice under the old policy. If an athlete continues to fail tests, the length of suspension increases.

The new policy applies to all sports, with suspensions for any type of drug use calculated not as a set unit of time but as a percentage of the athlete’s season. Though it was put in use at the beginning of this school year, the policy was not made public until New Jersey Advance Media obtained a copy this week. 

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The school’s change is part of a larger wave of programs slowly shifting their policies, usually in small ways; a 2015 analysis by AP found that one-third of Power Five schools had eased their penalties for marijuana use at least a little bit in the last decade. In 2014, the NCAA decreased its suspension for athletes who test positive for marijuana before championship events to half a season.

[NJ.com]