USports suspended a Waterloo player for marijuana, despite the fact that it’s legal in Canada

Waterloo Warriors football player Lucas Merlin was suspended two months for testing positive for marijuana – after the substance became legal in Canada.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, which handles the testing for USports, announced the suspension today – after it had already been served.

According to the CCES, Merlin was tested on Oct. 27, 2018, after Waterloo’s OUA quarter-final loss to the University of Guelph. After an “adverse analytical finding” involving urinary concentration in excess of 150 ng/ml, Merlin waived his right to a hearing and was suspended for two months. His suspension ended Jan. 2, 2019.

This is dumb on all kinds of levels.

First of all, marijuana became legal in Canada on Oct. 17, just 10 days before Merlin was tested. Assuming he purchased his weed through the Ontario Cannabis Store – no sure thing, given the delays in the early going – Merlin didn’t break any laws.

Now, because USports uses the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List instead of creating its own drug policy like the CFL, marijuana is still a no-no for Canadian student-athletes and USports and the CCES have been really clear about this. Still, it seems strange that a university athlete in Canada can legally smoke marijuana – which is pretty clearly not a performance-enhancing substance – but not if they want to play sports.

It also stands in stark contrast to the CFL, which doesn’t test for marijuana – the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport also does the league’s testing but applies their policy, not the WADA code. Receiver Duron Carter didn’t receive supplementary discipline from the league, despite the fact he was charged with possession not once but twice last winter when doing such a thing was still a crime (he received an absolute discharge on both counts.)

Thankfully, the suspension, imposed as it was at the end of the season, is pretty toothless as well. Missing a couple of months of “team activities” in November and December after the season is over doesn’t seem like much of a deterrent.

Of course, Merlin’s career is already over. The 2018 campaign was his fifth and final season of eligibility – a defensive back, he played in 31 games and made 129 tackles – and the loss to Guelph was his final game.

Hope he did something fun to celebrate.

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