Man­age­ment, play­ers have the mar­i­juana talk

Calgary Herald - - NEWS - KRIS­TEN AN­DER­SON kan­der­[email protected]­

Recre­ational cannabis be­came le­gal ev­ery­where in Canada on Wed­nes­day but the ma­jor ten­ants of the Sco­tia­bank Sad­dle­dome were not af­fected.

The Cal­gary Flames had an in­ter­nal meet­ing with play­ers ear­lier in the week to ed­u­cate them re­gard­ing the laws and changes tak­ing place as well as re­in­force the team’s ap­proach to sub­stance use.

“Does it change any­thing? We look at it as you want to be top­i­cal and want to be cur­rent and make sure your play­ers are top­i­cal and cur­rent,” said Flames GM Brad Tre­liv­ing. “Out­side of that, move on. In a lot of ways, it’s like al­co­hol. You have to be fit to work, there’s an ex­pec­ta­tion. Be­cause some­thing has been le­gal­ized, you’re not show­ing up at work dif­fer­ently than you nor­mally would.

“How does it change? Not a whole bunch.”

The NHL and NHL Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion has a joint drug-test­ing pol­icy in place. Mar­i­juana can be de­tected in a per­son’s sys­tem for more than 30 days from in­ges­tion and is banned by the World An­ti­Dop­ing Agency and on the NHL’s list of banned sub­stances. But play­ers are not pun­ished or sus­pended for pos­i­tive mar­i­juana tests, although a sig­nif­i­cant amount found in test­ing would trig­ger a re­fer­ral to the league’s be­hav­iour health pro­gram.

The NHL has in­di­cated their poli­cies would not be chang­ing.

“Busi­ness as usual,” said Flames head coach Bill Peters. “There are two coun­tries that have it le­gal­ized now and we’re one of them.”

So no, uh, cel­e­bra­tory plans were in place?

“No,” said Flames cap­tain Mark Gior­dano. “Just an­other nor­mal day. Ob­vi­ously, you fol­low some of the head­lines but we’re not pay­ing too much at­ten­tion to it.”

There’s the medic­i­nal, pain-re­liev­ing side of the drug, in­clud­ing a grow­ing in­ter­est in the ef­fects of cannabid­iol — also known as CBD — which has been avail­able in Canada but was pre­vi­ously il­le­gal with­out a med­i­cal mar­i­juana pre­scrip­tion. CBD oil is used to al­le­vi­ate aches in joints or to help aid sleep.

But ed­u­ca­tion is key, es­pe­cially when it comes to cross-bor­der travel and us­age.

“We’re still learn­ing. Our med­i­cal staff is on top of all of that stuff,” Tre­liv­ing said.

Gior­dano added: “If there’s an al­ter­na­tive for guys tak­ing pain meds, what­ever it is you should look into it.”

Tre­liv­ing said there is a com­mon­sense ap­proach to the sub­ject.

“Th­ese are high per­for­mance ath­letes,” he said. “They ’re spe­cific about what they put in their body and are tested reg­u­larly.”

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