Major League Baseball or MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association on Thursday announced major changes to their drug prevention and treatment program that favors a treatment-based approach to drug use. The changes to the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program include removing marijuana from the list of "drugs of abuse", while players will now be tested for opioids, cocaine and fentanyl. The changes will be effective starting in 2020 during spring training. The league and its players' union said they continue to favor a treatment-based approach to drugs of abuse, with a particular emphasis on protecting players from lethal and addictive substances, while providing confidential care and support to players who need it. Players will now be tested for the presence of opioids, fentanyl, cocaine, and synthetic THC, along with other substances listed under the "Drugs of Abuse". Players who test positive for one of these drugs will be referred to Joint Treatment Board consisting of medical professionals who will evaluate and, if appropriate, formulate a personalized treatment plan for that player going forward. Those who refuse to cooperate with their initial evaluation or prescribed treatment plan will be subject to discipline. Natural cannabinoids like THC, CBD and marijuana will be removed from the list of "drugs of abuse". The primary ingredient in marijuana is THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive compound that induces the 'high' and hallucinogenic effect in the user. Cannabidiol or CBD is another compound in marijuan. But unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated like alcohol-related conduct under the Joint Treatment Program for alcohol-related and off-field violent conduct, which provides for mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a player's club or the Commissioner's Office for certain conduct involving natural cannabinoids. All players and club personnel will be mandatorily required to attend educational programs on the dangers of opioid pain medications and practical approaches to marijuana during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The changes to the MLB Program come following the death in July of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, whose autopsy revealed the presence of high levels of opioid and alcohol in his body. High levels of alcohol, fentanyl, oxycodone and oxymorphone were found in the 27-year-old's system.
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