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What Happens When Pot and Pro Sports Collide?

Canadian Olympic gold medalist Ross Rebagliati and NBC Tonight Show host Jay Leno, left, gesture to the studio audience as they joke about marijuana use Monday, Feb. 16, 1998 during taping of the show in Burbank, Calif. Rebagliati nearly lost the gold medal in snowboarding when a routine drug test showed evidence of marijuana in his system. Rebagliati was allowed to keep the gold medal. (AP Photo/Susan Sterner)

Weed is still banned in most of the sports world, no matter its legal status in Canada. But for how much longer? In contact sports like football and hockey, what’s the justification for prescribing opioids instead of pot as painkillers? In other sports, is there really a case for calling it a “performance enhancing substance”? And if so, then shouldn’t it only be prohibited during games?

There are a million questions facing professional athletes and the teams they play for as pot becomes legal in more and more places, but perhaps the most important one is this: Who will be the first league, or team, to do it right? When that happens, the floodgates could open. Or not, and one Canadian league could be the only one out on the front lines of high athletics. 

Sportsnet’s Donnovan Bennett sits down with Jordan Heath-Rawlings to explore the controversy.